- It was interesting to see Wisconsin fans' reaction to my angry posts regarding Wednesday's game. While Northwestern is certainly not a better team than Wisconsin even with Leuer out (as proven by the loss), that's a game an NCAA tournament team should be able to win at home. I'd say with Leuer, Wisconsin is probably a #4 to #6 seed in the NCAAs, and without him they're somewhere in the #8 to #10 range. If Northwestern is the NCAA team we as fans hope they can be, they would probably have found a way to win that game, or at the very least have gone down fighting hard. If they'd lost because Wisconsin was raining in NBA range 3-pointers or off-balance fadeaways down the stretch (like what Northwestern did to win at Michigan State last year), then you just tip your cap and move on. But Northwestern lost mostly because they got out-hustled and made dumb mental mistakes, and that's what makes it so incredibly frustrating. The season can still be salvaged tomorrow against Purdue, but I'm not optimistic.
- One theory going around to explain Northwestern's struggles in the last 5 minutes is that Carmody is not going to his bench enough and that the starters are getting tired. There may be something to this, however Carmody has good reason to not go to his bench because the reserves on this team have not shown they can bring anything to the table. Alex Marcotullio has apparently hit a wall, as over the last 3 games he is 0 for 10 from the field and 0 for 8 from 3 point range to go along with 5 turnovers. When he is not shooting the ball well, he brings almost nothing to the table as he is too slow to defend Big Ten guards .Northwestern definitely needs him to regain his shooting touch.
The backup center triumvirate of Kyle Rowley, Davide Curletti and Ivan Peljusic all have major weaknesses. Rowley is useless on offense, and Curletti and Peljusic are too small to defend Big Ten centers. Curletti has shown the ability to shoot in a very small sample size, so maybe he can contriibute on offense. If Rowley continues to set moving screens, then it might pay off to give Curletti a shot.
As for wing players, Mike Capocci and Nick Fruendt are the two options. Capocci has the athletic ability to play in the Big Ten, but he is a poor jump shooter and has looked lost in the offense when he's been on the court. The scouting report on Fruendt is that he can shoot, so it's unclear what's keeping him out of the lineup. I'm guessing it's lack of athleticism, but at 6'5" he could probably be somewhat effective in the 1-3-1 or least not a complete liability. Hopefully one of them could step in and give Northwestern a few minutes here and there, but I don't see it happening and its very unclear how effective they'd be.
- Michigan surprised me last night by blowing out Indiana. Now the Wolverins get to take on a reeling UConn team at home on national TV Sunday afternoon.
Stay tuned later tonight for a preview of the Purdue game.