After their brilliant run to the NCAA Tournament, Chris Collins and his squad are on the map for 2017-18.
The college basketball season ended Monday night when UNC defeated Gonzaga in something resembling a basketball game. For UNC, the ceiling is the roof. After the game, many reputable sites published their “way-too-early top 25s” for those precious clicks, even if the NBA Draft is months away and recruiting season isn’t over. Regardless of merit, Northwestern is all over these preseason top 25s for the first time ever.
Northwestern returns seven of its eight leading scorers and is adding (at least) Anthony Gaines and a healthy Aaron Falzon and Rapolas Ivanauskas. Next year should be another step forward for Chris Collins and Northwestern. With McIntosh and Lindsey heading into their senior seasons, a hopefully improved Vic Law, and another summer of work for Dererk Pardon and Barret Benson, this team could be very good next season. People are taking notice.
Thus, Northwestern is in many of these “way-too-early Top 25s”. Let’s see exactly where the Wildcats ranked in these meaningless articles:
Yahoo! Sports - 21st
With a credit to Inside NU alum Henry Bushnell (did he go pro too soon?), Yahoo! Sports has Northwestern ranked at 21st. That’s pretty good. I’d take that heading into 2017-18. But there are more optimistic rankings...
FanRag Sports/John Rothstein - 15th
Stay hungry, stay humble everyone. Like a Fortune 500 company, John Rothstein produces these “way-too-early” rankings every year. He runs himself. Northwestern’s spot at No. 15 is a thing of beauty. This is only the day after the season ended, and yet I’m ready, because it feels like this is March for Northwestern. The will to win is useless without the will to prepare to win. No other words are needed.
If that was unintelligible to you, I refer you to the Official John Rothstein Almanac. Also, this ranking is definitely a bit too high. But thanks John Rothstein, the door is always open for Elijah.
Sports Illustrated - 22nd
Seth Davis has the Wildcats at 22nd. That’s just about par for the course, although still amazing considering the futility of Northwestern basketball for the last half-century.
Sporting News - 25th
Ryan Fagan at Sporting News snuck the Wildcats in at No. 25. We’ll take it, although ranking a completely unproven Alabama team at No. 21 and Virginia Tech at No. 23 was certainly bold.
USA Today - 25th
Scott Gleeson also has Northwestern at No. 25. The weak recruiting class hurts Northwestern, but Gleeson has them ahead of Butler at No. 26. Not bad.
ESPN - Honorable Mention
Well, this is disappointing. Apparently, Eamon Brennan does not have quite as much stock in the Wildcats’ as his competitors. But hey, honorable mentions are still good!
Whatever the case, Northwestern is no longer the downtrodden kid around the block. The national critics are taking notice of this team, and with a squad facing almost no turnover for 2017-18, the future is certainly bright.