Tag: Northwestern

2018-2019 Big Ten Preview

Preseason Player of the Year:

Carsen Edwards, Purdue

Preseason All-Conference Team:

Carsen Edwards, Purdue

Ethan Happ, Wisconsin

Juwan Morgan, Indiana

Jordan Murphy, Minnesota

James Palmer, Nebraska

Preseason Newcomer of the Year:

Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois

Projected Order of Finish:

1. Michigan

The national runners-up lost Mo Wagner and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahman, but this blog believes head coach John Beilein knows what to do with what returns. Those returnees are the trio of guards senior Charles Matthews, junior Zavier Simpson and sophomore Jordan Poole. The Wolverines also brings in a top-20 recruiting class featuring Ignas Brazdeikis. Plenty for Michigan to, at least, be one of the top teams in the league.

2. Nebraska

A better non-conference strength of schedule and this team probably would’ve been in the Big Dance last season. They weren’t, but the Cornhuskers have a lot returning from a team that won 13 conference games last season. They’ll be led by seniors James Palmer, a player of the year candidate, and Isaac Copeland as well as junior forward Isaiah Roby. Those three will lead the best Cornhusker team since the 1990’s – a team that will be a threat to win the program’s first ever NCAA tournament game.

3. Michigan St

Last season was one of the strangest in Tom Izzo’s tenure as head coach at Michigan St. From the team being overshadowed by the school’s mishandling of the Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal to the team’s early exit from the tournament. Two first-round draft picks in Jaren Jackson and Miles Bridges are gone so it will be up to juniors Cassius Winston, Nick Ward and Joshua Langford to step up. This probably won’t be the best team Izzo has coach, but he’ll probably enjoy not having to answer questions that needed to be asked.

4. Wisconsin

Wisconsin fans are used to winning so last season was such a departure for them. This season should see a return to the tournament because so much of the roster returns including senior forward Ethan Happ, who will be an all-American candidate. Happ is the leader of a lineup that sees its top eight scorers from last season returning. The Badgers look to be back.

5. Indiana

Speaking of teams that could be back, Indiana had an up-and-down season last season, but look to be headed for greener pastures. Coach Archie Miller brought in one of the best recruiting classes in the country led by Indiana high school legend, guard Romeo Langford. He’ll be asked to be a key member of the supporting cast around senior forward Juwan Morgan, who will be one of the best players in America. This program is certainly on an upward trajectory.

6. Purdue

The Boilermakers are at the tail end of the second great run under Matt Painter. They have to find replacements for Isaac Haas, Vince Edwards and Dakota Mathias in a hurry. Fortunately, national player of the year candidate, junior guard Carsen Edwards doesn’t leave the cupboard completely bare. He’ll be plenty good enough to carry the load for Purdue this season.

7. Maryland

With everything going on at Maryland, the start of basketball season has to be a welcome respite. That being said, it better be a good season for head coach Mark Turgeon. He enters this season needing to usher his team to the tournament and the talent is there to do it. Junior guard Anthony Cowan has to be the leader of a team that returns sophomores Darryl Morsell and Bruno Fernando. Five-star freshman Jalen Smith leads an incoming class that also features Aaron Wiggins and Eric Ayala. There will be nowhere to hide if this doesn’t work.

8. Iowa

Head coach Fran McCaffery is going to have to get a better defensive performance out of this team to prevent a repeat of last season’s disappointment. I think he can and with the firepower returning in juniors Jordan Bohannon and Tyler Cook and sophomore Luka Garza. Those three in addition to freshman Joe Wieskamp should have the Hawkeyes in the mix for a NCAA tournament berth.

9. Minnesota

Injuries and other types of roster attrition plagued the Gophers last season. They’re healthy now and there is enough talent here to get back to the NCAA tournament. The story is whether there will be another scandal to derail, not only the season, but also coach Richard Pitino’s tenure at the school. Senior Jordan Murphy will be an awesome weapon for a Minnesota team that could finish much higher than this prediction if everything goes right.

10. Penn St

Tony Carr declaring for the draft is keeping the Nittany Lions from being a top-5 team in this league. He and Shep Garner are huge losses. The cupboard isn’t bare as juniors Lamar Stevens, Mike Watkins and sophomore Josh Reaves return. Freshmen Myles Dread and Rasir Bolton will provide depth and will be great pieces for the future.

11.Northwestern

Two years ago the Wildcats made the program’s first ever NCAA tournament and had people thinking the team would be even better last season. Then the season started and it was clear that people overrated their talent. This season Northwestern will be aided by returning to Welsh-Ryan Arena for home games after playing in Rosemont last season. Seniors Vic Law and Dererk Pardon should be steady hands for head coach Chris Collins.

12. Ohio St

Head coach Chris Holtman put together one of the more surprising seasons in all of college basketball last season. The Buckeyes had no expectations, but led by Keita Bates-Diop and Jae’Sean Tate they earned a No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament. They’re both gone and leave a sizable hole to fill. Sophomore forward Kaleb Wesson and senior guard C.J. Jackson will attempt to fill that hole along with freshmen Luther Muhammad and Jaedon LeDee.

13. Illinois

Coach Brad Underwood’s first season was not a good one, but there’s reason to be optimistic here. Sophomore guard Trent Frazier and junior forward Kipper Nichols return to a team that’ll also feature one of the best freshmen in the country in Ayo Dosunmu. It’s a little too soon to expect a tournament run this year for the Illini, but it’s coming.

14. Rutgers

Rutgers gave its fans a glimmer of hope during its run in the Big Ten tournament last season, but the fact of the matter is this team still won’t be competitive in the league this year. Sophomore Geo Baker and Freshman Montez Mathis could be a solid backcourt in the future.

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One-hit Wonders?

 

Chris Collins
(Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports )

It’s possible that no team in America had a worse week than the Northwestern Wildcats. The Wildcats went 1-2 on the week, but it’s the losses that should be concerning.

 

Northwestern lost at home to Creighton-giving up 92 points to a team many expected to be the fourth or fifth best team in the Big East. Then came the 36-point loss to Texas Tech on a neutral court.

Questions now abound about whether or not the Wildcats first trip to the NCAA tournament last season was a fluke. Those questions are probably premature though as this all happened in the first month of the season.

There is still plenty of time for Northwestern to recover and with road games at Georgia Tech, Purdue, DePaul and Oklahoma before January – time to stock up quality wins. However, if they don’t, this week will be the one the nation points to as the first signs of chinks in the purple armor.

National Player of the Week: Jordan Murphy, Minnesota.

Murphy is averaging 24.8 points and 12.8 rebounds per game this season. In a huge road win at Providence, he scored 23 and ripped down 14 boards as the Gophers won going away. If he continues to put up these kinds of numbers then Minnesota could be a threat to Michigan St in the Big Ten this season.

 

This Week’s Top 25:

1.       Duke

2.       Arizona

3.       Kansas

4.       Michigan St

5.       Miami

6.       Wichita St

7.       Seton Hall

8.       USC

9.       Florida

10.   Villanova

11.   Minnesota

12.   Texas A&M

13.   Purdue

14.   Xavier

15.   Notre Dame

16.   Kentucky

17.   Cincinnati

18.   West Virginia

19.   Louisville

20.   Saint Mary’s

21.   Rhode Island

22.   UCLA

23.   North Carolina

24.   Alabama

25. Creighton

 

Bubble Boys

Ethan Hyman -Raleigh & Observer Former Wolfpack basketball players Tom Gugliotta, center, and Chris Corchiani, center right, are removed from the stands with 6 minutes, 40 seconds left in N.C. State's 76-62 loss to Florida State on Saturday.

Today we’re going to examine the resumes of several teams on the bubble.  Central Florida, Colorado St, Connecticut, Loyola Marymount, Miami(FL), NC State, Northwestern, Seton Hall, St. Joseph’s, Texas, Washington, Xavier

Central Florida

RPI: 56

Record: 19-7 (8-4 Conference-USA)

Key Wins: Connecticut, Memphis

Key Losses: Louisiana-Lafayette, Tulsa

Outlook: UCF is just 2-4 against Memphis, Southern Miss, Tulsa and Marshall – the other top teams in Conference USA.  Still has a road game at Memphis but will probably need to get to at-least the Conference USA title game to feel good about their chances.

Colorado St

RPI: 29

Record: 16-9 (5-5 Mountain West)

Key Wins: Colorado, Denver, Wyoming, San Diego St

Key Losses: TCU, Boise St

Outlook: The Rams still have a road game at San Diego St sandwiched between home games against New Mexico and UNLV so the opportunity to make a jump is there.  It’ll be difficult, but if the Rams can go 3-1 in their last four and get to the semi-finals of the Mountain West tournament then that will probably be enough for a bid.

Connecticut

RPI: 24

Record: 16-10 (6-8 Big East)

Key Wins: Florida St, Harvard, West Virginia, Notre Dame, Seton Hall

Key Losses: Rutgers, Tennessee

Outlook: The Huskies will have one of the top two or three strength of schedules in the country.  Despite the issue that have plagued them, they have a favorable schedule down the stretch.  A split in their last four and a visit to the quarters will get them to the Big Dance.

Loyola Marymount

RPI: 86

Record: 18-10 (10-4 West Coast)

Key Wins: Saint Louis, BYU, Saint Mary’s

Key Losses: Columbia, North Texas, Morgan St

Outlook: The Lions’ wins over Saint Louis, BYU and Saint Mary’s are better than any wins many of the teams on this list will have.  Those losses to Columbia, North Texas and Morgan St give severe pause though.  May have to win the West Coast Conference tournament to get in, if they get to final they’ll be seriously considered.

Miami (FL)

RPI: 44

Record: 16-9 (7-5 ACC)

Key Wins: Massachusetts, Duke

Key Losses: None

Outlook: Miami has just one quality win, but a win in Cameron carries a lot of weight.  The Hurricanes have a pretty solid strength of schedule, but are just 1-6 against the top 50.  They go to Maryland followed by a home game against Florida St and a road game at NC State.  Their margin of error is extremely slim.

NC State

RPI: 59

Record: 18-9 (7-5 ACC)

Key Wins: Texas, Miami (FL)

Key Losses: Stanford, Georgia Tech

Outlook: NC State had the worst week ever last week.  The Wolfpack lost a game it had won at Duke and then lost at home to Florida St where two of it’s legends were kicked out of the arena.  Win those two games and they’re not even on this list.  NC State has North Carolina and Miami at home coming up.  The opportunity to solidify a tournament berth is still available.

Northwestern

RPI: 37

Record: 16-10 (6-8 Big Ten)

Key Wins: LSU, Seton Hall, Michigan St, Illinois, Minnesota

Key Losses: None

Outlook: The Wildcats have never gone to the NCAA tournament before, but that all can change this season.  They have Michigan and Ohio St at home along with trips to Penn St and Iowa.  4-0 definitely, 3-1 probably, 2-2 and they better get to the Big Ten tournament semifinals.

Seton Hall

RPI: 34

Record: 18-9 (7-8)

Key Wins: Virginia Commonwealth, Dayton, West Virginia, Connecticut, Pittsburgh

Key Losses: Villanova

Outlook: Solid Strength of schedule, but still has a lot of work to do.  The Pirates have Georgetown at home this week and that will go a long way.  Remaining games versus Rutgers and Depaul are more can’t lose than must wins.  If Seton Hall goes 2-1, one of those two needs to be against Georgetown.

St. Joseph’s

RPI: 46

Record: 18-10 (8-5 Atlantic-10)

Key Wins: Drexel, Creighton, Duquesne, Dayton, LaSalle, Massachusetts

Key Losses: American, Charlotte, Penn

Outlook: The Hawks are benefitting from a weak bubble.  They’re currently 0-3 against Temple, Saint Louis and Xavier, which makes their game against Temple on Saturday uber-important.  They lose that game and they’re probably looking at winning the Atlantic-10 tournament to get in.

Texas

RPI: 51

Record: 17-10 (7-7 Big 12)

Key Wins: Temple, Oklahoma St, Iowa St, Kansas St

Key Losses: Oregon St

Outlook: The Longhorns host Baylor tonight and close the season at Kansas.  They have four games remaining and I thing going 3-1 in those games will get them in.  Under no circumstances can they lose to Texas Tech or Oklahoma.

Washington

RPI: 57

Record: 19-8 (12-3 Pac-12)

Key Wins: Oregon, Arizona (2)

Key Losses: None

Outlook: Washington is going to  have to finish at least tied for the Pac-12 regular season title and make it to the championship game to get an at-large berth.  Whether the committee wants to admit it or not; winning the regular season title of a power six conference carries weight.

Xavier

RPI: 54

Record: 17-9 (8-4 Atlantic-10)

Key Wins: Vanderbilt, Purdue, Cincinnati, Duquesne, St. Josephs, Dayton

Key Losses: Hawaii

Outlook: While the Musketeers haven’t been playing as well as they had been before the brawl, they still have the same roster.  That means this team is still capable of winning big games.  One of the best resumes on this list and may have a larger margin for error than other team seen here.  Still, I’d go 3-1 down the stretch if I were Xavier.

This Week’s Bracket Projections:

Last Four In: St. Josephs, Connecticut, Miami (FL), Seton Hall
Last Four Out: UCF, NC State, Colorado St, Illinois

Good for games through of 2/19

SOUTH

1.Kentucky16.Vermont/Savannah St Louisville

8.Virginia9.St. Mary’s

5.Louisville12.Northwestern Albuquerque

4.Baylor13.Oral Roberts

6.UNLV11.Mississippi St Columbus

3.Georgetown14.Davidson

7.Creighton10.Memphis Pittsburgh

2.Ohio St15.Belmont

WEST

1.Duke16.UNC-Asheville/Mississippi Valley St Greensboro

8.Saint Louis9.Harvard

5.Wisconsin12.Texas Albuquerque

4.Notre Dame13.Drexel

6.Indiana11.Seton Hall/Miami(FL) Nashville

3.Florida14.Middle Tennessee St

7.California10.Southern Mississippi Omaha

2.Kansas15.Long Island

MIDWEST

1.Missouri16.Bucknell Omaha

8.West Virginia9.Purdue

5.Florida St12.Washington Nashville

4.Temple13.Iona

6.Gonzaga11.Alabama Portland

3.Marquette14.Nevada

7.San Diego St10.Iowa St Columbus

2.Michigan St15.Valparaiso

EAST

1.Syracuse16.UT-Arlington Pittsburgh

8.Kansas St9.BYU

5.New Mexico12.Long Beach St Portland

4.Wichita St13.Connecticut/St. Josephs

6.Vanderbilt11.Xavier  Louisville

3.Michigan14.Akron

7.Murray St10.Cincinnati Greensboro

2.North Carolina15.Weber St

In Graphical Form