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Northwestern basketball projected as the No. 18 team in the country by KenPom

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This has most definitely never happened before.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Gonzaga vs Northwestern Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Even the advanced stat nerds are bullish on Northwestern heading into the season. Suits us, right? College basketball advanced stat guru Ken Pomeroy just released his 2017-18 preseason rankings, and he has Northwestern as the No. 18 team in the nation. Northwestern has never been ranked this highly heading into a season. Northwestern hasn’t been ranked this high on KenPom.com ever, let alone in preseason (last year Northwestern ended the season at No. 38).

Look at that!

The efficiency numbers really like Northwestern, apparently. Northwestern is returning four of its starters and most of its bench from a team that made the Round of 32 last season. The Wildcats are the third-best team in the Big Ten and just 0.05 behind Purdue in adjusted efficiency. Northwestern’s adjusted offensive metrics suggest the Wildcats will have a top-20 offense paired with the No. 22 defense in the country. Pomeroy also projects Northwestern to have one of the slowest tempos in the country, but that won’t matter if the Wildcats can be as efficient as he hopes.

Before we start getting too excited about this and Northwestern’s No. 20 ranking in the Coaches’ Poll, I should remind everyone that preseason rankings are meaningless. Northwestern still has a host of challenges, and injuries could derail the season at any point.

But hey, Northwestern is ahead of Gonzaga, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, UCLA, Wisconsin, Michigan, and UCLA on KenPom heading into a basketball season. What a world. I’m fairly sure KenPom doesn’t take Allstate Arena into account, but he has Northwestern going 21-7 this year, which would be amazing.