Men’s Basketball ranks No. 1 in Midwest after weekend sweep

Wildcats defeat back-to-back GLIAC opponents at home, look ahead to face UP rival Michigan Tech.
HITTING THREES — The Wildcats hit 19 three pointers to sweep the weekend against GLIAC opponents Parkside and Purdue Northwest.
HITTING THREES — The Wildcats hit 19 three pointers to sweep the weekend against GLIAC opponents Parkside and Purdue Northwest.
Caden Sierra

The Northern Michigan men’s basketball team hosted GLIAC opponent, the Parkside Rangers on Thursday, Feb. 8 and the Purdue Northwest Pride on Saturday, Feb. 10. Both games ended in Wildcat success with a Thursday score of 81-67 and a Saturday score of 69-66. NMU has increased their record to 19-6 overall and stands 12-1 in the conference.

The ‘Cats are now ranked No.1 in the Midwest region and No. 24 nationally in the National Association of Basketball Coaches poll. Junior Sam Schultz sits at the top of the GLIAC in rebounds per game with 10.0. Sophomores Max Weisbrod and Dylan Kuehl are currently ranked second and third respectively for total points.

Caden Sierra

“Jackson [Dudek]’s been good this whole time and probably deserved this crack and had a few cracks but deserved a play,” Head Coach Matt Majkrzak. “But the other part of it was we’re trying to get Brandon [Trilli] going once Brian [Parzych] got hurt so we wanted to maximize as many minutes as possible to get Brandon that experience so that he was actually ready to go.”

In the game against Parkside, Freshman Wildcat Riley Brooks started the scoring with a layup. Kuehl scored the next seven points, including a three pointer for the ‘Cats. Both teams held the lead until Junior Carson Smith scored back-to-back points for the Wildcats, pulling them ahead by three points. Despite the Rangers having a 60% three-point percentage over the Cats’ 50% three-point percentage, NMU ended the half on top. 

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Weisbrod started the second half strong with a solid jumper. Brooks had a pair of three pointers and a pair of steals to end the game 81-67. Weisbrod and Kuehl were the point leaders with 17 points each and Smith was a close second with 15 points. 

“I think the starting point is Max Weisbrod. It’s unbelievable, he’s the best player in the conference, he’s the best player in the region,” Majkrzak said. “There [are] all these little things that we’re doing a great job of especially at the end of games. I feel like everyone slows down and focuses even more and that’s not a normal thing for any team.”

Caden Sierra

In the Purdue Northwest game, Kuehl started the scoring with a layup in the first minute of the half. Weisbrod, Smith and Brooks scored back-to-back-to-back three pointers to start the game with heavy momentum. In the final minutes of the half, the Pride had several three pointers of their own to end 36-28 over the Wildcats.

The Wildcats cut the lead with a pair of three pointers from Kuehl and Smith. The lead continued back and forth with successful free throws from sophomore Sam Privet. As the clock was winding down, Weisbrod made a pair of three pointers to squeak ahead of the Pride with just 30 seconds remaining, resulting in a 69-66 victory. Kuehl and Weisbrod were point leaders for the night with 22 and 20 points respectively. 

“I don’t know if it was the best we played all season but at this point of the year there [are] no style points, every win puts us closer and closer to a lot of the goals we had going into the year,” Majkrzak said. “I think just finding ways this time of year is the key saying that I hope we can play a little bit better and we’re going to need to on the road the next three [games].”

The ‘Cats look forward to a single-game weekend against GLIAC rival, the Michigan Tech Huskies. The Huskies currently sit at No. 8 in the conference with a record of 8-14 overall and 5-8 in the conference. NMU last played MTU in January with a 98-66 victory and will look to stay undefeated by them this weekend.

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