25 November 2009

Countdown to Iowa St or St Louis

Turkey festivities are also going to prevent Carmody Court from scouring up a full scouting report for this game. The game time set on countdown clock is 430pm Central. However, the game is still shown as tbd on NU's official athletic website so it's possible that NU will be playing at the later 7pm time slot if NU were to beat to ND (and could even be playing at 7pm regardless of the NU-ND outcome as basketballtournamentinc.com seems to think will be the case).

What we do know at this point is the game will be televised on the BTN. Carmody Court recommends that you tune in to the BTN at 430pm. What's the downside of doing that after all? Less family time and more college basketball time. Heaven forbid!

Go Cats!

Countdown to Notre Dame

With the Thanksgiving Holiday bearing down on Carmody Court like Kyle Rowley on some poor Liberty player, it looks as if we will not have time to pull together a full scouting report on the Domers. We're pretty sure WRR and others will have our back.

The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.

Happy Turkey everybody!

23 November 2009

Better Know An Opponent: Liberty University

On Tuesday November 24 at 5:30pm Central, NU (2-1) takes on Liberty University ("Liberty") (1-4). This will be NU's second game of the Chicago Invitational Challenge ("CIC"). The game is at the Welsh and streamlined online at bigtennetwork.com (available for $2.99).

Liberty Quick Facts:
Location: Lynchburg, VA
Nickname: Flames
Coach: Dale Layer (1st Year - was a Flame assistant coach in 2007-08 and with Marquette last season)
Team Colors: Red, White & Blue
Conference: Big South
Student Population: 11.3K
Most Famous Alum: errrr, some Christian Rock folks who may be well known in those circles?

Liberty was founded as Lynchburg Baptist College in 1971 by Rev. Jerry Falwell (beat that, Larry Flynt!). The school eventually became known as Liberty University in 1984 when it achieved full university status. Not surprisingly, the school is known as one of the most conservative schools in the country. More surprisingly, they seem to welcome everyone with open arms (or is it a self-selecting process?) in that over 95% of applicants are admitted.

Liberty had an impressive year last year finishing 23-12 overall and 12-6 in the Big South conference. They played in the CIT and lost in the second round to James Madison University. However, Liberty lost three starters from that squad including its two top scorers in Seth Curry (who is now riding out a year over in Dukeville) and Anthony Smith. Liberty has six frosh on its roster including Evan Gordon, younger brother of Eric Gordon Jr, the former Indiana star whose name shall not be mentioned down state in Shampoo-Banana, and son of Eric Gordon who himself played for the Flames back in the 1980s.

Liberty's projected starting lineup is:

PG Jesse Sanders 6'3" 200 #25 So.
G Kyle Ohman* 6'4" 200 #11 Sr.
G David Minaya 6'6" 205 #14 RS-So.
F Patrick Konan** 6'5" 205 #23 Fr.
C Carter McMasters 6'11" 210 #41 RS-Fr.

* Named to 2008-09 NABC Honors Court (sounds like he'd be a nice fit in purple with his academics and shooting prowess)

** Hails from the Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire

Liberty lost its first round game of the CIC 72-91 to Notre Dame. Luke Harangody was a one-man wrecking crew, scoring 32 points and nabbing 9 rebounds. Liberty did their best to get physical with Luke, but he responded by knocking down all 10 of his FTA's. But enough about the Domers. Liberty showed some balanced scoring with 5 players in double figures (all starters except for PG Sanders, plus reserve guard Evan Gordon). Liberty has some offensive skills with an impressive 49% overall shooting percentage including 39% from distance. PG Sanders logged the most court time (36 minutes) and racked up 8 assists (and 4 turnovers). Speaking of turnovers, they were Liberty's Achilles heel against ND as they turned it over an alarming 19 times. Defense also doesn't appear to be their strong suit as they gave up 91 points.

Players who like to chuck it from distance are Ohman, Gordon, Minaya, and Jeremy Anderson, though only Ohman and Anderson warrant keeping a close eye on until the other guys prove otherwise. Ohman is their main guy as he is a senior who can fill it up. The coach seems high on Konan, the frosh forward he inked from overseas and is already in the starting lineup.

What to expect? NU seems to have the height and experience advantage inside while Ohman helps to even the scales around the perimeter. Expect the 1-3-1 to cause some damage given how prone the Flames are to turning it over. Let's see if Shurna and Mirkovic can get it going against the Flames. If they continue to struggle, nascent concerns about the front court will begin to gain some validity.

21 November 2009

Better Know An Opponent: Tennessee State University

On Sunday November 22 at 1pm Central, NU (1-1) takes on Tennessee State University ("TSU")(0-2). This will be NU's third game of the season and first game of the Chicago Invitational Challenge. The game is at the Welsh and streamlined online at bigtennetwork.com (available for $2.99).

TSU Quick Facts:
Location: Nashville, TN
Nickname: Tigers
Coach: John Cooper (1st Year)
Team Colors: Blue & White
Conference: Ohio Valley
Student Population: 9K
Most Famous Alum: Oprah

Other Notable Alums:
Richard Dent (Da Bears)
Ed "Too Tall" Jones (Da Boys)
Anthony Mason (Da Knicks)

TSU finished sixth in the Ohio Valley Conference last year with a 12-18 record overall. TSU is a much different team this year for better or worse. They have a new coach (John Cooper) and return only four lettermen total and two starters (Darius Cox and Jeremiah Crutcher). Cox (#20) is a forward who averaged 10.7 PPG, 7.0RPG, and made 52% of his FGA last year. Crutcher (#1) is a guard who led the Tigers in assists (121), had an impressive A/TO ratio of over 2.0, but wasn't much of an offensive threat (4.2 PPG, 34.5 3FG%).

TSU took on NIU in DeKalb on Friday and lost by a score of 57-85. TSU rotated 11 players with at least 10 minutes with no player logging more than 27 minutes. The leading scorer was sixth man Jaquan Nobles (#0) who scored 21 points on 7-11 shooting including 5-6 from distance.

TSU's Projected Starting Lineup:

F Hamilton Nash (#11)
F Darius Cox (#20)
F Robert Covington (#33)
G Josh Sain (#2)
G Wil Peters (#10)

Game forecast:

This is classic cupcake city as NU defeated NIU in its first game of the year by a score of 77-55 while NIU took TSU behind the woodshed. No need for deep analysis in this game (not like there is much information out there on TSU to go on).

20 November 2009

Recap: Butler 67 NU 54

In the hours leading up to the game there was some optimism swirling around certain segments of NU fandom when news spread of NU's 4 to 5 point underdog status. Once the game started the optimists had to take heart in the fact that NU only trailed by 5 points at the end of a first half in which NU shot the ball fairly poorly. Then the second half began and it all unraveled. Butler started knocking down the open shots it had during the first half once they had easily broken NU's 1-3-1 zone with crisp passing into the corners, and it became apparent that NU had no answer for Butler's sound defense on the other end. Game. Set. Match.

Of Carmody Court's five pregame keys, only Shurna's lack of foul trouble and maybe NU's "aggression" (rebound and FTA statistics were roughly even) went the way we had hoped. Butler won the other three keys, including exerting its defensive will as exemplified in half two of last year's game, NU's inability to take advantage of Mirkovic's height advantage (no fault to Carmody for his game plan as he did try to force it down low only to find Mirkovic off his game), and probably most importantly Butler's ability to break NU's 1-3-1 zone as mentioned above.

On a positive note, NU fans got a first good look at Alex Marcotullio and he looked ready to play. Marcotullio had been hampered by an undisclosed hamstring injury during the exhibition and first game against NIU. Kyle Rowley looked adept at times but still prone to the turnover bug. Juice had a solid night as expected but was shut down once Butler realized NU didn't have many other viable scoring threats, at least on this night.

Carmody Court hopes that Marcotullio's game readiness is not just a tease. With him in the lineup NU has three threats from beyond the arc (along with Juice and Shurna). Perhaps he and Crawford should platoon for the time being at the 2G as Crawford looks like he's still on the very steep part of that freshman learning curve. There has been some hope that both freshmen could contribute and possibly even start -- this would be fine with Carmody Court so long as they are ready for it. It seems like this is more of a medium-term plan, but we can always hope for the best.

18 November 2009

NEWSFLASH: The kibosh has been put on Butler!

We at Carmody Court feel sorry for Butler fans. Seth Davis picked them to make the Final Four this year. Hopefully news travels fast and makes it into Butler's lockerroom at the Welsh!

Carmody Court is suddenly feeling a bit more optimistic about tonight's game!

Carmody Court's Five Keys to the Butler Game

Here are Carmody Court's five keys to tonight's game:

1. Can NU's offense generate open looks like it did in the first half of last year's game, or will Butler's vaunted defense set the tone as it did in the second half of last year's game?
2. Can Shurna stay out of foul trouble? NU needs him on the court for 30+ minutes, even if Butler decides to target him and take him out of NU's offensive equation.
3. Can NU take advantage of Luka Mirkovic's height? On paper, this is one of the few areas that NU looks to have an advantage.
4. Will NU's 1-3-1 defense wreak havoc on Butler's offense, or will Butler be able to get the rock to the soft spot in the corners?
5. Will NU match Butler's intensity? Butler may be caught off guard by NU's new-found propensity for crashing the boards. Keep an eye on those OR and FTA statistics.

One additional thing that should be on all Wildcat fans radars during the non-conference slate:

How is Drew Crawford progressing? Is he staying out of foul trouble? Is he gaining more confidence in his shot? While Crawford is not the key to this game, his progression is very important to NU's postseason possibilities.

17 November 2009

Better Know an Opponent: Butler University

On Wednesday November 18 at 7pm Central, NU takes on Butler University ("Butler") in its second game of the 2009-10 men's basketball season. The game is at the Welsh and will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network (check your cable/satellite/fiber optic service provider for details on the channel).

Butler Quick Facts:
Location: Indianapolis, IN
Nickname: Bulldogs
Coach: Brad Stevens
National Rankings: AP #11, Coaches #10
Team Colors: Blue and White
Conference: Horizon League
Student Population: 4K (undergrad and grad)
Most Famous Alum: Tony Hinkle (former basketball coach for 41 years, invented the orange basketball, namesake of Butler’s Hinkle Fieldhouse)
Other Notable Alums: Thad Matta (former basketball headcoach, now at OSU), Scott Drew (former basketball headcoach, now at Baylor), Todd Lickliter(former basketball headcoach, now at Iowa), and Dave Calabro (track announcer at the Indianaplis Motor Speedway)

Butler is like Northwestern in some ways. Butler was founded and opened its doors in 1855 (Northwestern was founded in 1851 and opened its doors in 1855). Butler was originally known as North Western Christian University while NU got its name as it was intended to serve the people of what was once known as the Northwest Territory.

Butler is unlike Northwestern in many more ways. NU’s total enrollment of 18.5K students dwarfs Butler’s 4K student population. Butler is a liberal arts university while NU is a research university (which partly explains the difference in student population sizes). And then there is the tiny bit of difference in basketball tradition…

First, we have the arenas. Once upon a time, Butler’s home court, Hinkle Fieldhouse, was the largest college basketball arena in the land. Now, it reverently considered one of the great cathedrals of college basketball and was the filming location of the Indiana State Championships in Hoosiers. The Welsh has its charms and can be a real snake pit, but there frankly is little comparison here.

Then there is Butler’s basketball tradition. Butler had a nice run in the late 60s-early 70s but then went dormant until this past decade. Over the past decade, Butler has become one of the preeminent “mid-majors”. Butler’s high water market to date came in 2006-07 when Todd Lickliter coached them to a #5 seed and earned himself some national coach of the year hardware. This year looks to be even more promising as the squad is currently ranked around #10 in the land. We are well aware of how NU’s basketball tradition, or lack thereof, pales in comparison. ‘nuf said.

Butler plays in the Horizon League and is widely considered the favorite to win its league. Significantly, Butler returns everyone from its squad from last year that earned a #9 seed in the NCAA tournament before bowing out to LSU in the first round. Butler is led by junior forward Matt Howard (14.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg last year) who is the Horizon’s League’s reigning player of the year. Sophomore forward Gordon Hayward (13.1 ppg, 6.5 rpg) was first team all conference and earned newcomer of the year. Sophomore guard Shelvin Mack (11.9 ppg 4.4 rpg 3.5 apg) also was on the conference all newcomer team. Rounding out the Bulldog starting five are PG Ronald Nored (2.7 apg) and senior forward Willie Veasley (8.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg).

NU and Butler battled last season at Hinkle Fieldhouse. NU held a 36-27 halftime lead but could not hold on for the victory in the second half (a sign of things to come last season). NU shot well in the game, going 8-17 from distance. Ultimately, Butler took advantage of an uncharacteristically high number of NU turnovers (17) and its aggressive play (Butler made 17 FTs to NU’s 3) to will itself to a 5 point victory. NU standouts in the game were Juice, Moore, and Peljusic.

Based simply on additions and losses from last year’s squads, this game does not shape up well for NU. Gone for NU are Moore, Coble, and Ryan with a question mark as to Nash’s availability (word is that he is cleared to go but we shall see…). Butler has its entire squad back. In NU’s favor are home court advantage and its underdog status. Plus, Hayward and Mack were already coming into their own early last year while Shurna, Mirk, and Rowley were all pretty raw in what was only their second road game (ok this last bit is a stretch).

I don’t think any NU fan is feeling too good about NU’s chances in this game. Hopefully this allows NU to play loose and knock a talented Butler squad back onto its heels through some intense defense, aggressive offensive rebounding, and strong takes to the hoop.

Gentlemen, start your engines!

Bad news comes in threes

The old saying goes that bad news comes in threes (just ask MSU fans who still have nighmares of Juice and Moore swishing 25 footers during NU's upset at E-L last year). NU's bad news has indeed come in threes (Carmody Court wish it were at the hands of another team's long range bombers and not as recapped below).

First, Kevin Coble suffered a mild lisfranc fracture which requires surgery and effectively ends his season. We wish Kevin well and at the very minimum hope that Kevin does not suffer any related long-term health issues. Better yet, we hope for Kevin's full recover in time for the 2010-11 season.

Second, Jeff Ryan went down with a torn ACL late in the first half of NU's first game of the season against NIU. Jeff is also done for the season. Carmody Court hopes that Jeff Ryan also has successful surgery, redshirts, and makes a full recovery in time for a very successful 2010-11 squad.

Third, The Daily reported that Jeremy Nash has a heart condition that can cause sporadic shortness of breath and requires Jeremy to wear a heart monitor. Carmody Court wishes Jeremy Nash the best with his condition, and PLEASE JEREMY, do not risk your health for college basketball if there is even the slightest risk of exacerbating your heart condition. If this means hanging up the shoes for the season or for your career then so be it. Lis francs and torn ACL injuries are difficult injuries in their own right, but heart issues are at an entirely different level. The very last thing we would like to see happen would be for your bad news to take a turn for the worse.

Money Talks: NU as strong as Illinois

Illinois hosts NIU tonight in C-U, and the line is 21 to 22 points. By how many points did NU defeat NIU last Friday night? Yep, 22 points. Even the math-challenged are quick to notice the similarity in these figures.

What sort of conclusions can one draw from these facts? It depends on how one values a half's worth of Jeff Ryan to NU versus a whole game's worth of Xavier Silas to NIU. Why? Because these are the only two differences between NU and NIU today vis a vis last Friday (Ryan is out for the season, Silas is out for the Illini game after suffering a hand injury thanks to Nash's hard foul).

Carmody Court conservatively concludes that the smart money says the Illini = Wildcats.

13 November 2009

The NIU Fighting Illini

What happens when NIU takes on the "Southern" Fighting Illini next week? Gotta love the interwebs! Fail.

12 November 2009

Yesterday was National Letter of Intent Day

Yet, still no official word of JerShon Cobb signing with NU.  Why not? 

Huskies confident heading into the Welsh tomorrow night

Or, at least they sound that way in this article.  In contrast, NU sounds like a woozy boxer who has just suffered a hay maker to the chin. 

11 November 2009

Coble injures left foot in practice

It is forgivable if NU fans feel a little bit like Charlie Brown today.  This is because news broke this afternoon of a possibly severe injury to Kevin Coble's left foot suffered during Tuesday practice.   There isn't much in the way of facts available on the injury, but the latest word from the Trib is that Coble will be out for at least a few weeks.  So, much like Charlie Brown cajoled by Lucy to try to kick that football but only to find that the minx pulled the football away at the last second yet again, the promise of THE SEASON has seemingly been pulled out from under us just as the season is about to get started.  Good grief!

Immediate reaction among NU fans ranged from despondence (season is over) to paranoia (NU is cursed) to reassurance.  It is always interesting to see how different folks deal with loss.  While this is clearly terrible news for Kevin and for NU, there is no reason to completely lose our heads.  At the very least it is way too early to give up hope for the NCAAs -- let's at least know Kevin's expected absence before drawing any type of conclusions.

What we do know at this point is Coble will be out for the NIU game.  This is sure to improve NIU's chances and to hearten the 300+ NIU students who will be given free bus rides and tickets to the game.  I was amused to read in this article that one of the student's interviewed is an NU fan and that there are alot of NU fans on NIU's campus.  Whodathunkit?

10 November 2009

Better Know An Opponent: Northern Illinois University

On Friday November 13 at 7pm local time, NU takes on Northern Illinois University ("NIU") in its first game of the historic 2009-10 men's basketball season.  The game is at the Welsh and will be streamed online at the Big Ten Network (available for $2.99).

NIU Quick Facts:
Location: DeKalb, IL
Nickname: Huskies
Coach: "Ricky" Ricardo Patton
Team Colors: Black and Red
Conference: Mid-American
Student Population: 25K
Most Famous Alum: Dan Castellanta (doh!!!!)

Other Notable Alums: Jimmy Chamberlin (Smashing Pumpkins drummer), Terry Boers (yes, of WSCR), Michael Turner (Atlanta Falcons RB)

NIU is located in DeKalb, IL which is about 65 miles west of Chi-town.  NIU better fits the Big Ten profile than Northwestern as it is a member of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities and has a student population that is much larger than Northwestern.  To better serve its student masses and lack of viable entertainment alternatives in bustling DeKalb, NIU also sports a good-sized, state-of-the-art basketball arena, the Convocation Center, which seats 10K.  Academically, NIU is best known for its bean counters as the school is ranked around the top 10 in the nation for accountants.  It must be a laugh a minute out there in DeKalb.

NIU is in the Mid-American Conference (aka, a "MAC-Daddy"), and is predicted to finish second by the media and first by Sporting News in the MAC West this year.  These are heady expectations for the Huskies who finished fifth last year in the MAC West.  The thinking is that NIU played lots of sophs and frosh last year, and their growing pains will begin to pay dividends this season.

It's difficult to get a bead on these Huskies because, well, this is the first game of the year.  Hence, we at Carmody Court are forced to extrapolate from last year's season.  Overall, the Huskies return 88% of their scoring and 79% of their rebounding.  Their best player was Darion "Jake" Anderson, a junior guard who averaged 17 ppg and 5.5 rpg and can fill it up from distance (37% 3FGM, about 4 attempts per game).  Anderson declared for the NBA draft (sans agent) in May 2009 but returns for another year to build his resume.  Joining Anderson in the backcourt is Mike DiNunno, a soph guard who also likes to launch bombs but isn't quite as proficient at it (34% 3FGM, about 5 attempts per game).  The Huskies have their own version of Alex Marcotullio in Troy Nixon, a true frosh sharpshooter from South Holland IL.

It is appropriate to think of the Huskies as Boulder-East as they have Sean Kowal at center, a kid who made the switch along with Coach Patton from Colorado.  Kowal led the MAC in FG% last year.  Xavier Silas makes his debut in a Huskie uniform against NU after also transferring in from Colorado. 

NIU's weaknesses last year play right into NU's hands.  They were prone to turning the ball over (Nash should have a field day) and defensive lapses (never a good thing against an offense as perpetually active as Northwestern).  NIU also struggled a bit from the charity stripe (60% FTM overall), so NU should not be allowing any easy baskets on slashes toward the hoop.

In short, NIU shapes up to be a worthy foe on Friday.  NIU's backcourt should have an advantage as Crawford gets his legs, though I fully expect Nash to come in quickly off the bench to neutralize this advantage by creating some turnovers and easy fast break points.  NU's advantage is in the front court given our height advantage.  I don't think NIU will have a collective answer for Mirk, Coble, and Shurna which should prove to be NIU's downfall.

05 November 2009

Save the Date: NCAA Tourney First & Second Rounds

No excuses, folks.  Mark your calendars and tell your friends and family ASAP that you WILL NOT be available for that annual ski trip, that St Patrick's Day pilgrimage to  St James's Gate, that golf trip with your buddies to Palm Springs, etc...

Forgo that trip to Mardi Gras and save up that work vacation time.  Cut short that holiday vacation plan with the family.  Start squirreling away $250 per month.  Get that purple and white face paint and Kevin Coble cut out faces.  Buy that Drew Crawford jersey, and dust off those purple & black pom poms from past bowl games.  

Because you do NOT want to miss out on NU's first ever trip to the NCAAs.  So here's the deal...

First and Second Rounds

March 18 and 20:
New Orleans, Louisiana
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Providence, Rhode Island
San Jose, California

March 19 and 21:
Buffalo, New York
Jacksonville, Florida
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Spokane, Washington

I won't be picky and will gladly go wherever the tourney selection committee wants to send us.  My hope is for a trip to the Big Easy for some March madness jambalaya, jazz, and college hoops.  San Jose would be fine (some pre-madness skiing at Tahoe, anyone?).  Milwaukee is an obvious choice for ease of access and home court advantage reasons.  Odds are that Oklahoma City will be the site as the college basketball gods seem to like sending NU to the Sooner State for post season basketball (see: NIT, Tulsa)

04 November 2009

Recap: NU 78 RMU-IL 49 (Exh)

So... NU took care of business against the Eagles of RMU-IL this year.  What does this mean?  Not much.  It was an exhibition after all.  Still, I will take a shot at recapping the game because, well, I am just so damn excited for this season.

Overall, well, NU looked like a good team.  They looked solid across the board.  They played good defense. They looked organized and fluid on offense.  They looked tall and aggressive on the boards.  They looked reasonably athletic (still a work in progress, but improved over any NU squad in memory).  They did what good teams do -- pull away and coast against inferior competition.  Even with Carmody emptying the bench.

On Shurna... the guy looks much, much better.  Last year he was soft.  He looked like a frosh inside.  Not now.

On Coble... the guy will be Mr Reliable.  Sort of like Cal Cheaney from IU his senior year (no, I'm not predicting a Naismith for Kevin).  He's going to give us a dependable 16 and 6 night-in and night-out.

On Capocci.... he looks very athletic and probably should see some time against teams aggressive on the interior but with bigs who are bad passers (a small niche, yes, but a niche).  Why?  Because he shows good anticipation off the ball to block shots and can get up there.

On Curletti... still aggressive, still not much range.

On Fruendt... looks assertive but probably was a bit nervous as he didn't knock but one down from distance.

On Marcotullio... looks like a frosh.  Makes me nervous.

On Crawford... incomplete.  looks the part.

On Ryan... looks bigger, more confident

On Thompson... not his best game.  Not worried.

On Mirkovic... Looked ok.  Expect more from him this season.

On Peljusic... aggressive as always.  plays at 100 miles per hour which is unusual for a big.

Other recaps:

Welsh Ryan Ramblings
Chicago Now
The Daily
Northwestern Official Athletic Site
Lake the Posts

Next up: No Ill @ the Welsh on 11/13 7pm CST.

PS: While searching for recaps, I came across this article on the Trib's website.  I think it's safe to say we'd be looking for back-to-back tourney berths if Luke had come to NU instead of ND.

03 November 2009

On NU breakthrough season's effect on Chicago

I saw comments recently from Shon Morris (a heckuva a guy, BTW) that when NU makes it to NCAAs that it will have a similar, though maybe somewhat smaller, splash in the Chicago area as the 1995 football run for the roses had.  I don't think making the NCAAs would suffice (though it would be newsworthy and garner some attention).

For those paying attention to preseason pub, unlike the 1995 football team, the 2009-10 basketball team isn't flying nearly as far under the radar.  Everywhere you look, you see NU and the NCAAs mentioned side-by-side.  The shock factor isn't there as much as it was with the football team. 

Also, the basketball team doesn't have an early season shock factor game like football had with its opener in the ND game.  The closest thing is the Butler game.  As good as Butler may be (ironically, they will probably be better in basketball this year than Notre Dame was in football in 1995), Butler does not resonate in the college basketball world as Notre Dame does in the college football world.  A victory over Butler would indeed be impressive, but it wouldn't turn heads in the same way that the victory in South Bend did.  A poor second is the Chicago tourney with a matchup against, yes, Notre Dame.  If NU wins that game, especially in conjunction with a victory over Butler, there could be some buzz.  A distant third would be an NU victory over NC State in what may be the year that the Big Ten finally gets over the hump in the Big Ten-ACC "Challenge".

Another factor is the simple difference in the number of games.  There are more games in college basketball, so each game carries a bit less weight than one of (then) eleven games in football.  A victory over MSU in January would turn heads, but again, not in the same way that beating Michigan at the big house did.

No, nothing short of vying for the Big Ten regular season title would be needed to create the same type of buzz that 1995 football created.  Carmody Court is not predicting that will happen, though one should never say never as it would be more expected than NU's Run for the Roses in 1995.

Izzo predicts NU to break the glass ceiling this year

and make it to the NCAAs.  Glad to see Izzo agrees with us at Carmody Court.  Too bad he was a bit late to the party.

In other news, Shurna is rumored to be the best player in practice (hard to believe with Coble and Juice on the squad), and that the frosh are coming along well.  Coach Carmody continues to be upbeat about the season and even sounds optimistic that NU will make the tourney.

Better Know an Opponent: Robert Morris University Illinois

NU takes on the Eagles of Robert Morris University Illinois ("RMU-IL") for an exhibition tomorrow (11/4/09) at 7pm.  The game is at the Welsh and will be streamed online at the Big Ten Network (available for $2.99).

RMU-IL, not to be confused with the better known RMU in Pittsburgh, play in the CCAC (Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference) which is part of the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics).  RMU is a perennial NAIA tourney team and made it to the NAIA Final Four last year.

This is the second straight year NU and RMU (IL) have laced 'em up for an exhibition.  Last year, NU lost which had some NU fans in a tizzy.  Of course, the reason why NU lost was not because NU was bad but because Coach Carmody used the exhibition for what it was intended (i.e, to throw a bunch of things onto the wall to see what sticks -- including a baptism by fire for the five frosh).

Since last year's exhibition loss, Robert Morris has become a University (was a college) and opened a ninth campus in Elgin (go Fighting Elgins!).

So.... what to expect from tomorrow's game?  As was the case last year, Carmody will certainly use the exhibition to try different things and test out some unknowns (the frosh, and the sophs/juniors who didn't play much last year).  The final score?  Aside from some fans who don't understand the point of an exhibition, no one should care nor take anything from it (except for getting a first look at this year's historic squad!!!!!).