Fresh off winning back-to-back Big Ten contests against a rising Iowa squad and a mediocre Nebraska side, the ‘Cats traveled to Ann Arbor and East Lansing to take on #20 Michigan and Michigan State. Against the ranked Wolverines, the young ‘Cats once again found themselves struggling against top-of-the-line competition and fell 5-2, but rallied against the Spartans in a swift 5-2 victory.
Coach Arvid Swan inserted Ben Vandixhorn in place of Nick Brookes with Simen Bratholm, but Michigan defeated the pairing on Court #3 6-4. Dominik Stary and Chris Ephron won their doubles point on Court #1, but the Wolverines took down Antonioni Fasano and Trice Pickens on Court #2 to give Michigan the 1-0 lead.
The Wolverines took off in singles, winning first sets in five of six matchups. Fasano fell in straight sets against Mattias Siimar by a 2-6, 3-6 scoreline, while the other Wildcats battled back to send their matches into three sets. Pickens and Jason Seidman both lost their deciding games, however, to give Michigan the win.
Bratholm and Stary recorded wins on Courts #1 and #4, while Ephron dropped a super tiebreaker to Myles Schalet on Court #5. Michigan took the match 5-2.
The ‘Cats cruised past a struggling Michigan State squad yet to win a game in Big Ten play. Wins by the Bratholm/Vandixhorn and Fasano/Pickens pairings gave the ‘Cats the doubles point, while wins by Fasano, Ephron, Pickens, and Seidman gave Northwestern the overall victory.
With a 4-3 conference record, the ‘Cats are firmly entrenched in the middle of the Big Ten with important matchups against Penn State, Minnesota, and Wisconsin upcoming. Assuming Ohio State, the Big Ten’s powerhouse program, defeats the ‘Cats, Northwestern could be on its way to a winning conference record for the first time since making the NCAA tournament in 2016-17.
The Wildcats return to Evanston to take on #1 Ohio State on April 12 at 6 p.m.