Gophers at a glance: If they aren't feeling a sense of urgency now, they haven't been paying attention. After losing frustrating home games to talented Wisconsin and Ohio State, the Gophers (17-9, 5-8 Big Ten) have their backs up against a wall. A victory at Northwestern is all but imperative if they want a shot at the NCAA tournament. After changing the lineup Tuesday against Ohio State, Gophers coach Tubby Smith is talking about shaking things up again, this time with the motive of getting more rebounds. ... When his team was winning, it was getting a balanced attack from all its starters. More recently, the Gophers have been relying on bench players to pick up the slack coming from their inconsistent starters, but they will need to get back to that earlier formula if they want to succeed.
Northwestern at a glance: The Wildcats (15-10, 5-8) know something about being on the bubble. Northwestern had a nice run to get in the tourney conversation, winning three in a row, but is coming off tough road losses at Purdue and Indiana that put the desperate Wildcats in a position similar to the Gophers'. The path ahead for whoever loses this one will look very rough indeed. ... John Shurna leads the Wildcats with 20.3 points a game and Drew Crawford adds 16.8 for Northwestern, which failed to shoot 50 percent from the floor either of its past two losses. ... Northwestern's zone defense gave the Gophers a little bit of trouble in the teams' first matchup, but the Wildcats used it too late to make much difference in a 75-52 loss Jan. 22.