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ROUNDTABLE: Northwestern men’s basketball season predictions

Reaching .500 would be nice.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament- Iowa vs Northwestern Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Northwestern’s 15 wins last year nearly matched its combined total from 2019-20 and 2020-21, but it still didn’t translate in legitimate success for the Wildcats. In fact, Chris Collins’ team has finished with a losing record in every season since the team’s first NCAA Tournament appearance. In what very well may be Collins’ last dance in Evanston, how will the ‘Cats perform? Our writers give their season and conference record predictions.

Gavin Dorsey: 12-19 (5-15 B1G)

Northwestern lost a ton of its minutes this offseason with the departures of Pete Nance, Ryan Young, Ryan Greer, Casey Simmons and Elyjah Williams, and I’m just not sure Chris Collins did enough to replace the talent he lost. The Wildcats only bring in one n ranked recruit in the 2022 class — three-star power forward Luke Hunger — and were given the 12th-best rating in the Big Ten after losing top 100 prospect Rowan Brumbaugh to Texas (who, for the record, would’ve been NU’s second-best recruit ever behind Nance). The starting lineup is still mostly intact and should be able to generate points, but there’s just not that much depth on the roster compared to before the exodus, and I fully expect Collins to be searching for a new job come March.

Iggy Dowling: 13-18 (4-16 B1G)

Losing nearly every frontcourt veteran in a conference teeming with them is a recipe for disaster. It’s even worse when you remember that one of those players was Northwestern’s best three-point shooter last year by a huge margin. While NU should win more close games than in 2021-22, every offensive possession is going to be a struggle.

Bradley Locker: 12-19 (3-17 B1G)

This team has a rare combination of a bad and thin roster and very poor coaching. Sure, the Big Ten lost superstars in Johnny Davis, Keegan Murray, Jaden Ivey, Kofi Cockburn and more, but the conference is a perennial powerhouse. There’s a slim chance Northwestern could pull off a conference upset or two, but with teams like Illinois and Indiana continuing to improve, this feels like a desolate season ahead. What we should really be concerned about is the growth of guard Julian Roper II, who appears to be a program cornerstone.

John Olsen: 15-16 (7-13 B1G)

It feels oddly optimistic for me to say the ‘Cats will finish with the same record as they did a year ago, but realistically, the drop off in overall squad talent should be offset by better variance in close games.

Patrick Winograd: 14-17 (6-14 B1G)

It would be too hopeful for me to predict this year’s Northwestern roster to finish with a winning record after last year’s roster did not manage that. Even if a few early Big Ten games go Northwestern’s way and the ‘Cats carry some momentum into the second half of the season, I would not predict this team to finish in the top half of the Big Ten standings or make the NCAA Tournament.

Jake Mozarsky: 14-17 (5-15 B1G)

Like last year, I think this Northwestern team will struggle when it gets to conference play. Without the likes of Pete Nance and Ryan Young, the Wildcats will run into struggles against top bigs like Hunter Dickinson and Trayce Jackson-Davis. Northwestern’s only hope for success in conference is to play elite small-ball, as it does have a talented backcourt. This team will have no success if it doesn’t get scoring from its guards. I just don’t know if this team can compete in the conference due to the obvious talent gap between it and others in the Big Ten.

Ethan Segall: 15-16 (7-13 B1G)

Just like last year, I think Northwestern will get off to a hot start in non-conference play. Once conference play rolls around... I’m a little worried. This team is really counting on Boo Buie to take a major leap in efficiency and scoring. Barring a bonkers offseason of development or breakout season from an unexpected youngster, a second straight year of 15-16 feels about right.

Ryan Cole: 13-18 (6-14 B1G)

The Big Ten is just really good. When you look at Northwestern’s schedule, it’s hard to find games to pick as wins. I think the ‘Cats will give us some exciting moments, and I think there is some legit young talent. I also think Boo Buie will be a fun watch all season. But I just don’t think the team can compete with the best of the best in the Big Ten this year. We should all enjoy non-conference play.

Adam Beck 12-19 (6-14 B1G)

Without some key pieces from last year’s squad, the ‘Cats are going to have an uphill climb They lost their best player in Pete Nance, so expect this team to struggle putting the ball in the basket. Don’t get me wrong, I love what guys like Boo Buie, Chase Audige and Julian Roper bring to the table on both ends of the court, but there isn’t enough consistent scoring on this roster to match up against such a high powered Big Ten conference.

Zain Bando 15-16 (9-11 B1G)

Northwestern is at a crossroads this year. Let’s face it: 2017 feels like a distant memory, and ever since then, the Big Ten has gotten better. Teams like Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State and Michigan have returned to greatness as the “blue bloods” of the conference. For the Wildcats, the team has regressed. Fast starts in non-conference play have led to disasters in January and February, effectively ending the season in crunch time. The ‘Cats will have to rely on their youth to keep games close, along with high expectations from veterans like Boo Buie and Chase Audige. If the anchor of the team stays healthy, this team will be competitive in most games, but it’ll have to pull off a few upsets to become legit in the eyes of the fanbase and country alike.