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What will be Northwestern's best lineup?

The exhibition provided some hints.

Andy Lyons

Northwestern has six scholarship newcomers this year, meaning we don't really know much about this team headed into Chris Collins' second season in Evanston. We've heard about the hype surrounding the new freshmen, and we got to see some flashes in the intra-squad scrimmage and the exhibition game, but perhaps the most interesting part of this team is still the mystery that surrounds it.

For one, we don't even know for sure which lineup Collins plans to rely on the most. Even though things could radically change by conference season, I wanted to take a look at what Collins' favorite lineups were during the exhibition game. Here's what I came up with.

Lineup Minutes Pts Pts Against Possessions +/- PPP eFG%
McIntosh/Cobb/Lumpkin/Law/Olah 8 16 2 12 +14 1.333 68%
McIntosh/Cobb/Demps/Law/Olah 6 18 7 12 +11 1.5 89%
Sobo/Demps/Lindsey/Law/Kreisberg 4.5 18 10 11 +8 1.636 100%
Sobo/Demps/Lumpkin/Law/Olah 3 7 2 4 +5 1.75 117%
Sobo/Demps/Law/Lindsey/Skelly 2 6 2 3 +4 2 75%
Vassar/McIntosh/Lumpkin/Cobb/Skelly 2 0 6 3 -6 0 0%

So this can help us at least begin to answer today's questions ... which of Northwestern's lineups will be the most successful?

There are three particular lineups that stood out to me from the exhibition:

  • Bryant McIntosh, JerShon Cobb, Sanjay Lumpkin, Vic Law, Alex Olah
  • Bryant McIntosh, JerShon Cobb, Tre Demps, Vic Law, Alex Olah
  • Dave Sobolewski, Tre Demps, Scottie Lindsey, Vic Law, Jeremiah Kreisberg/Gavin Skelly

To answer this question simply, it's pretty clear that one of the first two lineups will be Northwestern's best. The starting lineup is probably the best all-around group and the best for defense, while the lineup listed second is what our Josh Rosenblat called NU's "finish the game" lineup. Subbing Tre Demps for Sanjay Lumpkin hurts NU a little bit defensively, and that will be especially true against bigger teams, but it will also give the Wildcats a more efficient offense. Those lineups will be the ones we see the most often, and they'll likely be the most consistent ones throughout the year.

However, the third lineup also intrigues me. During the game, I called it the "no defense" lineup. Vic Law might be the best defender of that group, but it really has the ability to push the ball in ways that some of NU's other lineups may not. If Johnnie Vassar can improve and add a defensive/tempo presence to that group in place of Sobolewski, then it has some potential to provide a spark if needed.

But in terms of which lineup will be best, it's pretty clear that it's the ones that will involve five of these six players: McIntosh, Cobb, Lumpkin, Demps, Law and Olah.