Last night saw 2017-18 Northwestern basketball fall into the “got to win the B1G Tournament in order to accomplish anything this season. By having lost at B1G basement boys Rutgers, the Wildcats are now in the same category as all the other B1G teams below Nebraska and Penn State- reduced to playing out the string with pretty much no chance of grabbing a NCAA Tournament at large berth.
As for a NIT at large berth, if anyone still cares to get one and considers that a goal/objective/reward, NU, Maryland, and all the teams below them all have a significant amount of work to do to even reach that point.
That Rutgers (RPI 200) defeat is a resume killer, and it means that this Northwestern basketball team will have to pull the upset over #2 Michigan State on Saturday, just to even wash that stain out. With MSU battling for the B1G title, and having a lot of work to do in order to grab a NCAA Tournament #1 seed, don’t expect the Spartans to let up.
Northwestern basketball now has a RPI of 102, and SoS 81. They are also 81 in KenPom and 63 in Sagarin. Here’s how Real Time RPI sees the season finishing out
GAMER Season Predictions
Projected Record: 16-14 (8-10)
Projected RPI Rank: 117
Projected SOS Rank: 83
So yeah, it looks like no postseason for Northwestern basketball unless they win out in Madison Square Garden. So how did this happen? Where did it all go wrong? NU was picked to finish third or fourth by most experts in the preseason. Some even picked the Cats to come in second. None of that matters now, it’s already time for thinking about how 2018-19 could be much better.
Here are some of the factors that created the regression this season:
All Road Games
No one likes to going to the Rosemont Horizon. Period. (Hey, we’ll call the arena by its proper name if/when the insurance company gives us a kick back for their brand promotion, it’s always been and always will be the Horizon to us)
It’s understandable why Northwestern basketball coach Chris Collins has lashed out at others during his news conferences this season. On one occasion it was the referees, on another night it was the media coverage. He’s frustrated, he’s fed up with losing, the disappointment of this season, and most likely having to play all road games.
We feel your pain Mr. Collins. We’re all in the same boat on this one- Northwestern basketball fans, media, donors, the team itself…none of us want to track to Rosemont. The arena has clearly never updated its interior since it opened and the entire inside has the vibe of a set that would film a Stormy Daniels movie, if she were making pictures back in the 70s.
It’s just a poor venue for basketball, always has been. It’s great for wrestling and concerts though. At least NU, after Saturday, will only have to play there two more times.
B1G Dumpster Fire
This Northwestern basketball team is far from the only league side that vastly underachieved this season. Maryland is much worse than anyone expected. Yes, they have had injuries, but it still shouldn’t precipitate a drop off like the Terrapins have suffered. Minnesota was fool’s golden last season, it was obvious. While their free fall was predictable, one could not have anticipated a drop-off this severe. Wisconsin was set to take a step back, but not fall off the map like they have.
Expectations for Iowa and Illinois were low, but not this low. This Illini team is honestly among the worst in school history. The league is a hot mess this season, with only four good teams and two mediocre ones. The overall negative vibes of the league in general drags everyone else down. Every B1G team has a much weaker than expected strength of schedule, and it drags everybody’s resume down.
Very Early, Superficial Look at Next Season
Next year Northwestern basketball will be back in the underdog role, a status that they are obviously much more comfortable with. They just couldn’t handle being the favorite this season, and this is best illustrated by how they performed in their contests with the biggest television audiences.
It was usually some of the worst basketball that they have played this campaign. NU also returns home next season, in the newly refurbished Welsh-Ryan, which will actually decrease by about a 1,000 in capacity; not increase.
However, next year’s team won’t have have Bryant McIntosh, one of the best ever in Northwestern basketball history. Scottie Lindsey, who was dominant at times during his career, also graduates. Yes, he’s been Rex Grossman like in his great when they’re good, horrific when they’re bad this season, but don’t let that maddening inconsistency obfuscate all that he accomplished in Evanston.
Gavin Skelly is also gone, and next year sees this becoming Vic Law’s team. The redshirt junior will be the new alpha dog, with Dererk Pardon becoming the new second banana. That’s a solid duo to start from, and in a weak B1G that’s expected to stay down, Northwestern basketball could be back in the middle of the pack next year.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and the Tribune company’s blogging community Chicago Now.
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