Season so far: 10-2
Good wins: LSU and Seton Hall (with a victory over a historically decent Tulsa squad sandwiched in between) in the Charleston Classic. Also a defeat of Georgia Tech on the road in Big Ten/ACC Challenge was niiice too. NU hung tough on the road at Creighton before falling 87-79.
Bad losses: Blown out at home against undefeated and #6 Baylor 69-41, close “win” vs Central Conn State, not exactly an East Coast powerhouse.
Leaders: Pre-season All American F John Shurna and G/F Drew Crawford continue to pace the Cats. Senior C Mirkovic is on again-off again, but comes up big on occasion.
Best case scenario: 11-7. This includes wins on the road at Illinois and Minnesota as well as wins at Welsh-Ryan versus Purdue, Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan. This is asking a lot, but I’m not sure we have a good sense of how tough/weak all of these Big Ten teams are.
Worst case scenario: 6-12. That’s right, these hopes for wins on the road fall flat and the home-cooking versus the mid-tier of Big Ten tastes a little sour, leaving Northwestern on the outside looking in of both the NCAAs and perhaps the NIT.
Prediction: Yes, I know, a wide range of between Best and Worst cases. Further proof of this from other Wildcat fans: my girlfriend says 10-8, but her father predicts 5-13. Here’s to hoping the Cats resemble the remarks of the media in November when they were on a roll. NU will grab five must have Ws vs Penn State, Nebraska, Iowa at home and Iowa plus Penn State on the road. Then they muster four more wins (out of eight) against Illinois, Purdue, Minnesota, and Michigan either at home (or less likely) away. This puts the Wildcats at 9-9 in the league and 1-1 in the B10 Tourney allowing them to squeak into the Big Dance at 20-12. The past two years Northwestern finished the season at 20-14, so we will see if it’s enough.