After a week without any games due to finals, our Wildcats showed no signs of rust in a Monday matinee, easily beating Gonzaga, 62-43 with yet another impressive defensive effort that improved them to 8-0.
We'll have to see if the win over the Bulldogs, who were ranked #24 at one point, vaults the Wildcats into the USA Today Coaches Poll top 25. The poll comes out tomorrow, but I'm not sure when ballots were due. In last week's poll, Northwestern was just out of the top 25, unofficially 28th, in the "others receiving votes" category.
The AP Poll, which was released earlier today before the Gonzaga game, has NU unofficially 27th. NU is trending upward, though, getting 19 votes, compared to last week's 14.
Up next, Northwestern heads west to wrap up the non-conference portion of the schedule.
They start with a Wednesday game against 3-6 UNLV, which should be a winnable game. A victory would tie the squad with the 1995-96 team for the best start in program history.
Then they travel down to Tempe for the ASU Classic, where the Wildcats will face 3-7 Eastern Illnois in a first-round game on Saturday. Depending on the results, on Sunday, they'll face either 7-0 Lehigh or 7-1 Arizona State. Lehigh has yet to play any team of note, while Arizona State is lurking just behind NU in the rankings, one vote back in the AP Poll.
So, NU has a decent shot to finish the non-conference season undefeated, or at the least 10-1, though road games can always be tricky, especially if they face Arizona State on the Sun Devils' home court on the second night of back-to-back games.