Tadric Jackson (#1) back in action vs. North Texas (photo credit to ramblinwreck.com)

This is what you all have been waiting for…the Nerd Bowl is here. On Tuesday evening, the Yellow Jackets will play host to the Northwestern Wildcats. The last time Tech played the Wildcats was in 2014, and Tech fought for a 66-58 victory led by Chuck Mitchell’s 13 points. On the very end of the bench for the Yellow Jackets was a guy from Texas named Ben Lammers. The Laminator only played 2 minutes, accumulating 1 rebound and 1 shot attempt…which fell short. Tadric Jackson, who was also on the team, played a whopping 5 minutes and scored 0 points. Safe to say things will be different this go around.

Northwestern is coming off a great season, accumulating a school high 24 wins and receiving the first bid to the NCAA Tournament in school history. In the Big Dance, the Wildcats knocked off our friend Bryce Drew and the Vanderbilt Commodores in round 1. In the second round they lost a thriller to the eventual runners-up, Gonzaga Bulldogs. Leading the culture change and winning way is 5th year Head Coach, Chris Collins. Chris is the son of NBA Coach, Doug Collins (the guy who couldn’t win with Michael Jordan). Chris Collins played at *sadly says* Duke University. After playing one season professionally in Finland, he decided to take up coaching. Collins started coaching as an assistant in the WNBA, then moved onto Seton Hall for 2 years, and eventually back to his alma mater Duke, before making the jump to the head man at Northwestern.

The Northwestern Wildcats are 4-2 so far this season with losses coming against a solid Creighton team and an under the radar all-senior led Texas Tech team. Leading the Wildcats is the 6’3” senior point guard out of Greensburg, Indiana #30, Bryant McIntosh. He has the most assists in Northwestern history and led the team in points last season at 14.8 points per game. The Wildcats run their offense through him, and you will see an endless amount of pick and pops to get him or a spot-up shooter open for a three.

One of those spot-up shooters is 6’5 senior, #20, Scottie Lindsey. To put it in the most formal way possible, this guy gets buckets. He has 8 three point attempts in each of the last 2 games and has a season high of three-point attempts at 11. He averages 17.8 points per game this year with a season high of 26. He will get his shots up, it just comes down to limiting his open looks. If he hits a tough contested jumper, give him props and move onto the next play.

Next in the arsenal for Coach Collins might be a familiar name to Jacket fans. Standing 6’7” out of South Holland, Illinois is #4, Victor Law. Coming out of high school, some including me thought Law was Tech bound. We now know how it played out and Law is making the best of his decision. Law is a long elite defender and is built like Coach Pastner’s former player at Memphis and current Denver Nugget, Will Barton. He was named to the All-Big 10 defensive team and his wingspan is ridiculous. He is no slouch offensively as he has already busted out a 30-point game against Creighton and is averaging a respectable 13.2 points per game this year. Vic Law is a player every team needs on their team, and I am still a little bitter about losing out on him…. good ol’ Brian Gregory.

A duo of 6’8” upperclassmen hold down the front court for the Wildcats, #5 Derek Pardon and #44 Gavin Skelly. Pardon is more of the down low on the block guy, and Skelly stretches out the floor and expands to the three-point line. Last year Pardon lead the Big 10 in field goal percentage at 61.7% during conference play. To go along, Shelly has reached 14 points twice this year already and is shooting 54% from three.

Prediction: Northwestern comes out in a zone, most likely 2-3, to offset the size of their big men and to force the Jackets to knock down the three-point shot. They will likely focus on taking away Lammers and make someone else beat them. I’m expecting that if they do turn to the zone, Tadric will have a big game in the paint from the low block or high post. When he gets the ball close to the basket, he is very hard to guard. Though, this game might come down to if Curtis Haywood II can keep his silky shooting going, along with Tad, Alston, Jose and one of Moses, Evan, or AD hitting the open jumper. Defensively, I am looking forward to seeing how Alvarado handles McIntosh and if he can speed him up causing a few turnovers that we know McIntosh has in him. I think we put it all together in this one, and grind it out against a solid team without Okogie. Tech by 4.