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Who will lead Northwestern in scoring?

In Chris Collins' second year at the helm, who will emerge as the 'Cats leader on the side of the floor they struggled so mightily last year?

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Northwestern's offense was the worst in the Big Ten last year, bar none. They were able to win six conference games because they had a top-25 defense in the country, not at all because of their anemic offense.

Last year's stats paint a picture of a team that didn't have an offensive identity and was sometimes downright dysfunctional on that end of the floor. NU was dead last in the Big Ten in points per game, shooting percentage, three-point shooting percentage, third-to-last in assists, and last in offensive rebounding. Northwestern's offensive efficiency was 96.3, 309th best in the country (there are 351 teams in Division I).

One has to hope all this will improve, given that Coach Chris Collins has had the benefit of another full year of implementing his pick-and-roll heavy system and the influx of talent that NU has received. To suggest that Northwestern will be a top-five offense in the Big Ten is unrealistic, but it's not so far fetched to expect Northwestern not to be bottom dwellers in seemingly every important offensive category as they were last year.

They'll have to improve without last year's go-to-guy Drew Crawford, who averaged nearly 16 per contest and scored a team-high in 16 of 33 games last year. (Side note: Crawford signed with the the Erie Bayhawks on Sunday, the Orlando Magic's D-League affiliate. He'll be teammates with former Louisville point guard Peyton Siva and former Duke sharpshooter Seth Curry.)

But Northwestern's second leading scorer from last year, Jershon Cobb, is back this year and seems to be 100% healthy after a season-ending knee injury last season. All signs point to Cobb leading this Northwestern squad in scoring; he's proven he can score at the Big Ten level, having scored 20 or more last year four times including an impressive 22-point performance at Michigan State. Cobb will be the focal point of the offense despite not being the most talented player on the floor (that'll be freshman Vic Law) because he's an experienced player with a high basketball IQ.

I must admit, it did cross my mind that Alex Olah might lead this team in scoring. His offensive game is much improved and his size alone puts him at a massive advantage over the vast majority of opponents he will face. If Olah can get to the point where he can finish over both shoulders with at least some consistency, he'll be a real offensive weapon for the 'Cats. But Collins' offense is too pick-and-roll and three-pointer heavy (though we all know Olah fancies himself a knock down three-point shooter) for Olah to be the primary option.

Here's a not-so-bold prediction: Vic Law will lead the Northwestern Wildcats in scoring, it just won't be this year. Law has by far the highest ceiling on this team, but the adjustment from high school basketball to the Big Ten is steep to say the least. In high school, elite athletes like Law are able to get a high percentage of their baskets from being bigger, faster and stronger than their opponents. They're able to beat them down the floor in transition for easy dunks and are able to get to the rim with relative ease in half-court sets. That won't be the case for Law, particularly during his freshman year in a season where the Big Ten is so loaded. Law will have his time to shine, but his biggest impact on the team this year just might be at the defensive end.

Lastly, don't expect any Wildcat to average more than, say, 17 points. The Big Ten is a relatively low-scoring conference, and Northwestern is a defense-first team devout of a true offensive juggernaut. They'll emphasize defense first and foremost, and will run an offense that tries to spread the ball and minimize isolation situations. So, my hard answer to the question of who will lead Northwestern in scoring is that senior Jershon Cobb will with an average right around 15 points per game.