(Photo credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports)
Each school in the four-team Hall of Fame Tip-Off tournament enters the weekend event unbeaten.
A driving force behind Northwestern's contribution to that equation is junior guard Brooks Barnhizer.
Barnhizer is averaging 17.0 points and shining with his overall floor game as the Wildcats (3-0) prepare to meet Rhode Island (3-0) on Saturday at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.
"He's just completely immersed into the competition of the game, and because of that, his activity is all over the floor," Wildcats coach Chris Collins said. "His scoring, his rebounding, assists, steals, blocks. He's just doing a little of everything, and he's just a really good all-around player that impacts the game in many ways."
Barnhizer scored a career-best 20 points to go with seven boards and three steals in the Wildcats' 63-59 home win against Western Michigan on Tuesday.
Boo Buie paced Northwestern with 21 points and had five assists and zero turnovers while playing 39 minutes.
Rhode Island has been idle since Tuesday, as well. The Rams topped visiting Wagner 69-53 behind 16 points and seven rebounds from Jeremy Foumena. Zek Montgomery contributed 13 points, 11 rebounds and six assists, and Jaden House had 15 points.
A redshirt freshman center, Foumena has grown increasingly comfortable with scoring and defending inside.
"The way I've been playing and everything, I trust the system," he said. "I trust coach (Archie) Miller. I just come in with the energy every game and just destroy the other team. I'm in my element right now."
No argument from Miller.
"At the end of the day, a player's confidence is everything," Miller said. "So he should be sky high right now."
Rhode Island is 2-0 against Northwestern all-time. The schools haven't met since 2010, when the Rams earned a 76-64 victory in a first-round NIT game.
The winner will face the winner of Saturday's earlier matchup between Mississippi State and Washington State for the tournament title Sunday. The losers meet in the consolation game.
--Field Level Media