Sure Northwestern basketball season already started. Yeah, that game against Mississippi Valley State was pretty much what we've been waiting the whole offseason for and totally had a major impact on Northwestern's NCAA Tournament chances (wanks)
Anyway, here's a bunch of posts about Northwestern's upcoming basketball season where SoP's contributors got together to say how they felt about the team. We wanna hear what you have to say too!
Today: The Big Ten is the best conference in basketball. Nobody disputes this. Not the dying Big East, not the ACC in a down year. The champion might not come out of the Big Ten, but if it doesn't, they'll be close, with four of Kenpom's top ten, including No. 1 Indiana, and six of the top 15.
Being mediocre in the Big Ten is basically a free pass to the NCAA Tournament. The question is, can Northwestern do that? I asked SoP's staff how they think Northwestern will fare in the country's toughest league. (the other guys wrote their stuff a while back, so forgive their inaccuracies.)
I think we will take a slight step back and finish 8th with the departure of Shurna and the depth of the conference as a whole.
I look at this team on paper, and I just don't see it breaking into the upper echelon of the Big Ten. We're still at a talent and athleticism deficit to most of the Big Ten, which means that, as always, we have a small margin of error and need precision execution. And some days even that won't be enough. In general, though, I think Carmody gets his teams to play above their talent level, though his schemes. I expect a couple of upsets along the way, a few heartbreakers, and an 7-11 record in conference. Unlike the past few years, our conference schedule seems to give us a better chance at a good start, which would allow the team to build up some momentum and confidence. So, an 8-10 or even 9-9 record isn't out of the question, if the breaks fall the right way. An 8-10 record would put Northwestern squarely on the bubble. 7-11 probably leaves us out. We'll need to catch a few breaks.
I'd guess somewhere between 8th and 10th; Northwestern could have a fantastic season and still not even finish in the top half of this league. 5 Big Ten teams are currently ranked and MInnesota will probably be ranked soon, and Iowa, Purdue, Illinois and maybe even Penn State have legitimate NCAA tournament aspirations. Nebraska figures to be the only bad team, and Northwestern only gets to play them once.
Northwestern's better than Nebraska and better than Penn State without Tim Frazier. Those teams are going to get pounded. The rest remains to be seen. I think Northwestern's BEST case scenario is seventh, but would require NU having a great year and one elite-ish team dropping off. If NU could finish eighth with eight wins and put Iowa and probably Purdue in the rear view mirror, that's a potential tourney team.