For as good as the second half was for the Northwestern Wildcats, the first half was pretty bad.
Northwestern started out the game 1 of 13 and allowed the UMass-Lowell River Hawks to build a lead heading into halftime. But thankfully for the Wildcats, they picked it up in the second half and shot 59% in the field in the second half. They were led by Senior Center Alex Olah, who had a double-double of 21 points and 12 rebounds for the Wildcats.
Like against UMass-Lowell, expect a big dose of Olah on offense. He is the best player for Northwestern on the post and will be the main focal point of their frontcourt.
Another player to look for will be Aaron Falzon. The Freshman Forward had 20 points against UMass-Lowell and certainly surprised many with a 20 point outburst in his first game. He also shot 67% percent from three, showing his versatility on offense. It will be interesting to see if Chris Collins will implement Falzon more and more to see if his big game wasn't a fluke.
Look for Northwestern to also rely on the shooting of Tre Demps, who had 10 points for the Wildcats.
Northwestern will have to find a way to get off to a quicker start on offense if they don't want to find themselves behind in the first half to a mid-major opponent again.
Northwestern's opponent will be the Fairfield Stags out of the MAAC. They are currently 0-2 this season with losses to the Yale Bulldogs and #1 ranked North Carolina Tar Heels. Fairfield has only made the tournament three times with their last appearance coming in 1997. With teams like Manhattan, Iona, and Siena, who have made the tournament in recent years, Fairfield will have to do very well in MAAC play and the conference tournament to get an automatic bid into the tournament.
Their biggest threat on offense will be Marcus Gilbert. The forward scored 25 against UNC and will be one of the top scorers for Fairfield this season. He is a great three-point shooter and will cause problems for Northwestern on defense.
Fairfield stuck with UNC in the first half but the Tar Heels talent was just too much for the Stags to handle. But the fact that they were able to stick with the best team in the country should cause some concern for Northwestern. If they struggled against Fairfield, they might not be able to come back in the second half.
Northwestern will have to come out the gates stronger and against a sneaky opponent. These are all winnable games for the Wildcats and they need to get off to a great start in non-conference play if they want some momentum heading into Big Ten play.