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ROUNDTABLE: All I want for Christmas is...

There is just one thing we need.

Happy Holidays everyone! Inside NU has put together a wish list of everything that we want for Christmas, and it came a little late, but we finally saw last year’s big wish of Joe Spivak in a Santa suit come true.

Now that that’s been done, we’ve got a few more things we’re hoping to see underneath the tree this year:

Gavin Dorsey: A lacrosse national championship

Yes, my wish is the same as last year’s, however, this may be the Wildcats’ best chance at a ring. Not only does Northwestern welcome back former Tewaaraton finalist Izzy Scane from injury and add Tufts goalkeeper transfer Molly Laliberty, but the other teams at the top all lose some of their best players. The defending national champion Tar Heels, who memorably handed Northwestern a heartbreaking loss last spring, lose Ally Mastroianni, Jamie Ortega and Taylor Moreno, all staples of the team that raised the trophy. Meanwhile, Boston College graduates back-to-back Tewaaraton winner Charlotte North and Maryland loses Big Ten Attacker of the Year Aurora Cordingley. This of course is not to say that Northwestern — which graduates Lauren Gilbert, Jill Girardi, Ally Palermo and Brennan Dwyer — is better by virtue of the opponents’ losses, but the Wildcats are in prime position to make a postseason run and maybe, just maybe, finally get over the hump.

Bradley Locker: A men’s basketball NCAA Tournament appearance

Recently, it feels like I’ve seen more highlights of Northwestern basketball from The Good Old Days™ when it was a powerhouse and featured players like Bryant McIntosh, Scottie Lindsey and Vic Law (that’s partially due to the wonderful Twitter of former Inside NU EIC Dan Olinger). It’s hard to believe that not only was the 2016-17 season already six years ago, but also how futile the program has been in that span. Thus far this year, the ‘Cats are 9-2 and have flashed stellar defense; plus, the team’s two losses are to No. 23 Auburn (by one point) and 9-4 Pitt. On top of that, NU has seen offensive contributions from its unofficial Big Three of Boo Buie, Chase Audige and Robbie Beran, and bench players like Matt Nicholson, Brooks Barnhizer and Luke Hunger have provided energy. Granted, conference play is largely yet to start, but Northwestern has put itself in relatively sound position to make some noise in a perennially fierce Big Ten. After a turbulent past six seasons under Chris Collins, seeing the ‘Cats go dancing in the seniors’ swan songs would bring joy and optimism for years.

Iggy Dowling: Consistent shooting for both men’s and women’s basketball

Let it be known that Even-Year Northwestern is not a myth... it just came a few months late. Although Joe McKeown and Co. have struggled through a difficult non-conference slate, the men’s squad is off to its best 11-game start since the magical 2016-17 season. Thus far, its defense is among the nation’s best. For both teams to establish themselves as fringe tournament contenders come conference play, improving their shooting would be huge. As of December 20, they happen to be the only teams in the Big Ten that are shooting under 40% from the field. McKeown’s squad hasn’t had an offensive rating this low (86.1) in a decade. Especially for the men, it’s going to be extremely difficult to keep up the stellar defensive play against the Big Ten’s best, making improvement on the other end even more crucial. If both teams can shoot well consistently (outside of their primary perimeter threats), we could be in for a fun winter.

John Olsen: The men’s soccer team to assert more control over matches

More possession and gegenpressing, and thus, more control, would be a direct result of having more talent on the field, and should lead to more wins. I guess I just want a successful 2023 season, and doing it in a sustainable, more proactive manner would be the best-case scenario.

Also, a nice secondary gift would be Vicente Castro staying and using his final year of eligibility. We hardly got to see the potent trio of Justin Weiss, Jason Gajadhar and Castro last season because of injuries, so I’d love for them to get a full season on the field together at Martin Stadium.

Adam Beck: Peter Skoronski to be a top five draft pick

Skoronski is currently projected to fall somewhere in the top 10, but with struggling teams that already have a quarterback and could use help in the trenches, like Chicago and Arizona lurking near the top of the order, there’s a real possibility that Skoronski could go that high. He’s the best tackle in the class, and offensive line needy teams would love his immediate impact as a staunch pass blocker. More importantly, Skoronski going that high would be a great look for a struggling program that continues to produce top talent after Rashawn Slater and Greg Newsome were first round picks only two years ago. If Northwestern is able to continue to produce first round talent, it’s excellent for recruiting as the ‘Cats look to bounce back from a historically bad 2022 campaign.

Ethan Segall: Some talented transfers for the football team

I am incredibly nervous about the state of Northwestern football. Of course the 1-11 record is concerning, but equally alarming is the mass exodus of talent to depart Evanston this offseason. The Wildcats are losing their top three players to the NFL Draft and several more contributors and depth pieces to the transfer portal. On top of all that, the additions of Luke Fickell (Wisconsin) and Matt Rhule (Nebraska) to the Big Ten West make me nervous, and with the arrivals of UCLA and USC on the horizon, Northwestern’s road to conference contention is beginning to look bleak. An infusion of new talent would go a long way in reinvigorating the stumbling program. 2018 and 2020 are not that long ago! But in order to get back to those apexes, new veteran talent is mandatory.

Patrick Winograd: A winning conference record in men’s basketball

Teams in the Big Ten who finish at or above .500 in conference games tend to make the NCAA Tournament. Every Big Ten team who has finished at or above .500 in conference play over the last two seasons (as well as three teams who were under .500) made the NCAA Tournament. With a 9-2 start to the season, and only one game left in the non-conference slate, Northwestern has put itself in a good position if the goal of this team is to reach the tournament for the second time in program history. A win over Brown before conference play and an 11-9 conference season would give the ‘Cats a 21-11 record on the season. That type of season would draw comparisons to last year’s Michigan State and Ohio State teams in terms of conference and overall records, and both of those teams got seven seeds in the NCAA Tournament. It would be an amazing gift if Northwestern could put together a winning season in yet another tough year in the Big Ten.