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Northwestern basketball 2015-16 season predictions

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David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Every season, our staff offers you our predictions. And usually, they're not very accurate. But, we come back anyway, hoping that our predictions are as accurate as possible. Obviously with Vic Law's season-ending shoulder injury and its impact, many of our predictions were altered yesterday. Other themes that run through the predictions are a weak non-conference schedule and a talent deficit in Big Ten play.

With that, here are our predictions for Northwestern's 2015-16 season:

Josh Rosenblat

Overall Record: 18-13
Big Ten Record: 8-10
Postseason? NIT
Biggest Win: At Michigan, Feb. 24

Talent-wise, is Northwestern just three games better in 2015-16 than it was in 2014-15? Probably not, it's more like five wins better. But this Vic Law injury is really devastating. Instead of Law, Northwestern will have to play more of Sanjay Lumpkin, which truly diminishes the team's ability to be versatile offensively. Also, watch out for the Columbia game on Nov. 20, it'll be a tough one.

Henry Bushnell

Overall Record: 17-14
Big Ten Record: 7-11
Postseason? CBI/No
Biggest Win: At Indiana, Jan. 23

A few weeks ago, I was set on 19-12. As recently as last week, that number in the win column was creeping up in my mind, perhaps to NCAA Tournament territory. But the Law injury is a killer blow. I already thought this team's depth had been exaggerated, and now it really isn't any better than last year's. There will be signs of progress, and perhaps the Wildcats could sneak into the NIT, but Law was crucial to a lot of things Collins wanted to do this year, and his absence will really hold Northwestern back.

Zach Pereles

Overall Record: 20-11
Big Ten Record: 9-9
Postseason? NIT
Biggest Win: Home vs Ohio State, Jan. 6

Like Josh said, the Vic Law news is killer. But I'm still high on this team overall as far as them beating the opponents they should beat, losing to the teams they should lose to, and splitting a lot of games home/away. Remember, this team gave Ohio State (with D'Angelo Russell), Michigan State and Maryland huge runs for their money, and probably should have won two of those games. That entire nucleus of players is back (save Law), so I think a 20-win season isn't out of the realm of possibility.

David Gernon

Overall Record: 19-12
Big Ten Record: 10-8
Postseason? NIT
Biggest Win: Home vs. Wisconsin, Jan. 12

It's clear the loss of Vic Law for the season is a big one. If we conducted this roundtable yesterday, almost assuredly all our answers would be different. But, nevertheless, I am still predicting this team will taste the postseason in the form of the NIT with a 10-8 record in the Big Ten. While the loss of Law is tragic and now we are left only imagining what this team could have accomplished with him, without him they are going to have to move on and get ready for Friday's season-opener. Chris Collins is a guy who can make that happen and I trust him to mix-and-match enough throughout the season to do what needs to be done.

Josh Burton

Overall Record: 19-12
Big Ten Record: 9-9
Postseason? NIT
Biggest Win: Home vs. Wisconsin, Jan. 12

Thanks to a very weak non-conference schedule and a somewhat-weakened Big Ten, I think Northwestern -- even with the tough injury to Vic Law -- can put together a decent season, contend for 20 wins and maybe even garner a winning record in conference play. Alex Olah is one of the better all-around centers in the Big Ten, while Tre Demps is a reliable scorer. Also, the continued development from Bryant McIntosh and Scottie Lindsey should result in a pretty formidable starting five for the Wildcats.

Sam Brief

Overall Record: 19-12
Big Ten Record: 9-9
Postseason? NIT
Biggest Win: Home vs. Wisconsin, Jan. 12

The development and leadership of Alex Olah and Tre Demps will be huge for Northwestern this season, but I expected Vic Law to make a big leap this season, so the shoulder surgery stings. However, a weak nonconference schedule should push this team close to 20 wins. I also expect them to perform well in high-stakes Big Ten games at home—Olah and Demps have thrived at Welsh-Ryan in big games. Also, look for big numbers from Bryant McIntosh this season.

Tristan Jung

Overall Record: 18-13
Big Ten Record: 8-10
Postseason? Borderline NIT
Biggest Win: Home vs. Ohio State, Jan. 6

Northwestern is going to improve on last season's record. The weak non-conference schedule and the team's general improvement should ensure that much. Other than that, I'm not convinced that this team has enough talent at present to be competitive in the Big Ten. While the conference won't be as top heavy this season, I still don't see Northwestern at anything better than 8-10 in conference. The defense still needs work, and the loss of Vic Law removes a key component of the regular rotation. It's not fair to expect Aaron Falzon to play like a full-fledged starter in his first college season, and the team's depth behind the main three of McIntosh, Demps, and Olah is still untested. Will they be better than last season? Yes. Will it be enough to make the NCAA Tournament? I don't see it.

Ian McCafferty

Overall Record: 20-11
Big Ten Record: 9-9
Postseason? NIT (NCAA Bubble Team)
Biggest Win: Home vs Maryland, Jan. 3

As of Wednesday morning I was ready to pick Northwestern to win 23 games and go to the tournament. Now I don't know. Everybody else has talked enough about Vic Law, and yes he'll be missed, but I'm very high on Aaron Falzon. I think he steps up, as does Scottie Lindsey and they replace Law's production easily. The injury hurts depth obviously, but I still think this is an above average basketball team. They'll play well, but at the end of the season I think the Wildcats miss out on the tournament because of their non-conference schedule. They'll win some games they shouldn't and lose some games they should have won, but it will even out to create a team solidly in the NIT.