30 December 2010

Northwestern at Purdue pregame analysis

And so it begins. Northwestern (9-1) travels to West Lafayette to take on the Purdue Boilermakers (12-1) tomorrow night at 11AM central. ESPN2 and WGN have the call. The Boilers are a perfect 7-0 at Mackey but have yet to play any team of significance over there. Meanwhile Northwestern is 2-1 on the road which includes two wins against cream puffs and a loss to what appears to be a strong St John's squad. The Broilers are ranked #12 by the writers and #11 by the coaches. Northwestern is barely hanging on to the list of "others receiving votes."

This game is a study of contrasts. Purdue is known for its solid defense while Northwestern is known for its prolific offense. On the other side of the court Purdue's offense has been sluggish while Northwestern's defense has been mediocre at best. So it will be strength against strength in tomorrow night's game.

On the bright side Carmody's cagers have matched up well against Painter's playas in recent history. Northwestern won the match up in the Welsh last year and won down at Mackey the year before. Purdue did manage to eke out a win in the other game two years ago at the Welsh, but Northwestern had a big second half lead even there before inexperience reared its ugly head. Like this year Northwestern was a big underdog in both of those NU wins so the uphill battle this year may not be as daunting as it may appear on the surface.

On the dark side defense tends to trump offense when push comes to shove. The more pushing and shoving the refs allow in this game the more tilted in Purdue's favor it becomes. Also of concern is the status of John Shurna and JerShon Cobb. If either and/or both are not up to full speed this could very well be an ugly loss guys and girls.

Let's keep our fingers crossed that Johnny and JerShon are ready to go as a win tomorrow night would be a nice feather in our cap and a great way to start off a tough stretch to begin the Big Ten season.

Magic number update: 11

27 December 2010

Carmody Court 2.0 is here!

Drop the balloons and confetti Danny-boy. And be sure to check your ticket stubs as you may be our lucky 1 millionth customer and winner of our "mystery prize." OK whom are we kidding? 10 thousandth customer (and we'll pretend we're Italy and we just lumped off some zeros).

Anywho Santa brought the new and improved Carmody Court 2.0 with some shiny new links including the ever-so-entertaining bracket matrix and the massey compendium o' college basketball rankings. Go ahead and click through to these collections of the outputs of computer geeks with a college basketball habit the world over. That way our sponsors will be sure to give us a nice firm handshake and an attaboy.

No but wait there's more! If you call within the next 30 minutues we will throw in a WHOLE NEW list of links for your browsing pleasure. Just below the indispensable Northwestern basketball links is a list of popular (and free) big ten basketball message board links from all across the interwebs. These links should be quite handy for those of you Carmody Courters who wish to check out the pregame banter and maybe add a cent or two of your own. Or better yet these links are at the ready for some gratuitous schadenfreudening to watch incensed fringe fans meltdown where their alma mater u loses a game to a perceived little sister's of the poor jv squad.

For instance check out Indiana's peegs message board right now. That is some prime schadenfreudening in the wake of a home loss to lowly penn state. Patience is wearing thin in the third year of the Tom Crean regime for this once proud blue blood of a program. Battle lines are drawn between the irrational win-now-because-we-are-IU-chest-thumpers and the see-the-forest-through-the-trees-kumbaya-apologists. Mmmmm.... popcorn!

Call now! Operators are standing by.

Nice Sobolewski interview

Props for a nice bit on Sobolewski from scout's new Northwestern athletics webmeister, Chris Emma. He's really trying to revive that website which is nice for all of us junkies!

Pre-conference slate big ten power rankings

Penn state and Indiana get conference play kicked off tonight in Bloomington. Today is also beauty pageant day for the coaches and writers so we don't want to be left out of the pontification party.

1. Ohio state. Only undefeated team. Columbus/Philly: "evan turner who?" (no change)
2. Wisconsin. Steady as she goes. (+2)
3. Michigan state. Lucas still a step slow. (-1)
4. Purdue. Bumped thanks to others' missteps. Painter's nemesis coming to town 12/31. (+2)
5. Minnesota. Al Nolen is back. Is he really a difference maker? (+2)
6. Northwestern. The "five hole." (-1)
7. Illinois. Ugly meltdowns against Chicago's horizon team and Mizzou. (-4)
8. Michigan. Solid D. (+1)
9. Indiana. 2 game losing streak and no wins of consequence. (-1)
10. Iowa. No terrible losses. (+1)
11. Penn state. 2 game losing streak on heels of narrow win over the mount. (-1)

22 December 2010

Holiday festival aftermath

We ain't gonna sugarcoat it. That was a disturbing loss at the garden. The second half looked like the johnnies and wildcats did their best hot knives and butter impressions respectively.

Still it was just one bad half that exposed some flaws in Northwestern's team. These flaws are not (or should not be) a surprise to us or anyone who follows this team let alone the collection of quality coaches within the big ten. Will big ten teams be able to follow lavin's blueprint for success and exploit nu's flaws as well as the johnnies did in the second half? Some will be able to but others will not.

NU isn't invincible and without some warts. Even the most wildly optimistic fans knew this. Nu has the makings of a tourney team, and one bad half isn't going to change that. So show some spine and buck up chicken littles.

20 December 2010

Cats rough up the terriers

Ouch! Even we think that is an awful homophone. Deal with it.

This team continues to do what good teams do. We'll let other sing the praises of drew crawford, john shurna, and juice thompson.

We have more important business. WTF is this image, and why is it being used by yahoo for nu games?

Nu is pretty weak at branding (e.g., this icon. and exactly how many different shades of purple do we need to have at the welsh) considering it has the #1 marketing school in all the land.

One other thing: nu's (8-0) magic number is now 12.

19 December 2010

Wag of the finger

for the big ten geeks. They are already saying that nu will not make the big dance. They contend that because of a weak rpi that 10-8 in conference may not be enough. Come on. That would get nu to 21-8 before the big ten tournament. That would get nu in the upper half of the big ten. The very same big ten they led off with being the #1 conference. Talk about logical inconsistencies!

18 December 2010

Illwhini - Sean Morris edition

Anyone who has spent any time around Illinois fans knows full well that they are prone to complaining about anything and everything. I don't think the illini have ever lost a game fair and square in their minds. It's always xyz's fault.

In the wake of the humiliating loss to the UIC flamers poor old Sean Morris in the cross hairs.

Check this thread out then look around. Some good schadenfreudeing out there right about now!

Chicago's unofficial big ten team goes down

No. Not Northwestern. The illwhini just lost to their little brother UIC. At the united center. The illini home away from home. That just took some shine off the big ten and our win down in shampoo-banana next month.

Thanks for nothing losers. BOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

"Northwestern's longest winning streak...

to start the season since 9-0 in 1993/94." blah blah blah.

Anyone else getting tired of reading/hearing this line during/after every game? Same here. Ever wonder what the press will write when NU is sitting at 10-0 this Thursday evening? Don't worry we got your back and dusted off the archives.

In 1982-83 nu started with a 9 game winning streak which ended in the Nike Classic against UCSB that was located in (yep) Santa Barbara. So that may get a minor footnote during/after the Holiday Classic title game.

To find an even longer streak to start the season we have to go all the way back to nu's 1930-31 national championship team coached by Arthur Lonborg that started the season 12-0 en route to a 16-1 record. We actually look forward to those references.

In the unlikely event that nu starts the season 12-0 (which would include victories at purdue and against Michigan state at the welsh) then there'd be a historic tussle down in shampoo-banana against what should be a decently ranked illwhini squad with nu's record books on the line for this semi-irrelevant statistic.

So there you have it. Now you can rest easy knowing what lays ahead for journalists looking for something clever to say about our intrepid cagers.

17 December 2010

For the record

Nu will make the NCAAs this year. Yeah we said it. Nope you can't blame us if it don't happen.

As we watched the wildcats dismantle an american squad primed and intent on heading back to capital city usa with a big ten roadie scalp it became apparent that nu has all the makings of an NCAA squad. This was a game as recently as last year that nu might have struggled to win and could very easily have lost. To see this team come together and put the game on ice midway through the second half was an epiphany.

We've watched a ton of college basketball over the years and we know good basketball when we see it. Nu is a good basketball team. This team has un je-ne-sais-quoi about it that exudes the look of an NCAA-caliber squad. Why?

Maybe it's our senior point guard who can do any number of things to help his team win.
Maybe it's our star player who will drop 20+ points in a blink of an eye if not game planned against.
Maybe it's a team stocked with role players who can knock down open shots.
Maybe it's the calmness and quiet confidence that they will prevail even when things aren't going perfectly.
Maybe it's the ability to bury an opponent at a moment's notice.
Maybe it's the beauty of this offense that takes exactly what is given to it.
Maybe it's the enthusiasm and togetherness that is abundantly obvious by how everyone is cheering each other on and juice hip bumping guys on the end of the bench when getting a hoop and the harm.
Maybe it's the team consistently winning handily against weaker opponents as all good teams do.

Or maybe it's the combination of all these things. We can't put a finger on exactly why we know this team is going to end the drought. We just know they will. And we will enjoy every last minute of this long overdue ride.

Nu 78 American 62

OK let's first get a little business out of the way before we get into the game. Yes we meant to write 411 when we typed 911 on our pregame post. But since it got a rise out of a record number carmodycourters we think we've serendipitously stumbled upon something special. Be on the lookout for a 911 information post in the near future on a blog near you.

As for the game most of the bloggers/beat writers/message board denizens have already hit upon our two cents. Among those ideas that didn't see daylight early enough for us to lay down our flag and claim as our original ideas are:

* American was a pretty good team and better than anticipated. They were more than the one man vlad show and were quite competitive in the first half. Hence this was a very respectable win for nu.

* The 1-3-1 was noticeably absent which is good thing considering we need to develop a viable secondary defense when teams have the 1-3-1 solve (yes we are looking right at you ed dechellis)

* Nu's game plan was to make the vlad man uncomfortable. During the pivotal stretch of the game vlad was invisible out there.

* Juice is looking the part of veteran senior guard who are vital to teams that make it into and move on in the NCAAs.

* Shurna is very very good and getting better. Wow! That leaner when he got the conventional 3 point play after getting hammered to the ground was stupendous. That desperation heave from near half court to beat the shot clock that went in displayed skill and awareness. While not the fleetest of foot on defense Johnny does keep his head on a swivel which helps to force turnovers.

* The game was settled during a pivotal 3 minute stretch midway through the second half in which nu went a 13-0 run that stretched a competitive 7 point game into a 20 point yawning gap. Yes clark kellogg we's gots spurtability in spadez.

* Drew Crawford couldn't get free. At least he didn't force shots. We imagine he'll have some heady games when teams decide to help on johnny shurna and sag off him. He just needs a little daylight to make teams pay.

* Cobb had a rather unremarkable game and still exhibits excitability. Yes he's still a frosh. Good news is that things will really be sinking in for him by the time we debut in the NCAAs!

* Luka had a good game and was dogged on the boards. Keep it up big fella.

Nu is now 7-0 and gaining in national profile. Magic number: 13

15 December 2010

The 911 on the vlighting vlads

So we set out our cracker jack interns to learn more about our next opponent. As we suspected the name american u is a farce. The school is located in the nation's capital which as most americans know is about as far removed from your average joe america as timbuktu. Apple pie? Try freedom fries. Chevrolets? Maybe some months ago but GM just went all IPO on uncle Sam! Baseball? The gnats make the flubbies look like the yanks (with cliff lee OOPS!). Hot dogs? OK maybe that one has DC written all over it. But a .250 batting average won't pass muster. Unless we're still talking about the gnats.

Also as we suspected the american eagles as they are known are a one man band headlined by our friend vlad moldoveanu. And yes it turns out the scoring machine is Romanian which to our surprise is not home to the old gladiator coliseum (Maximus! Maximus! Maximus!). No, Romania is a country best known for its vampires and gypsies. Some people get it confused with Hungary as their capital cities are so close in name and both lie on the banks of the blue donau. Oh and evil dictators and passing grounds for great armies of yore are other Romania claims to fame.

But onto this vlad dude. The guy went to a high school called St John's College High School. WTF is up with that? I bet they really churn out the national merit scholars at that bastion of higher learning. Aside being afflicted by premature balding vlad seems like a good guy whose english is much better than we had expected. But don't take our word for it: check this out

Ffow update of the week

Former flavor of the week craig robinson was once held out as an example of someone who could do a better job than bill carmody. evidence was his rapid rise from shackled nu assistant to brown coach to rising oregon state megastar coach. What's more was that his sister was married to the hottest political entity the world over. How could nu not succeed with this juggernaut at the helm?

Robinson is now in his third season with the beavers and sit at an admirable 4-5 after nearly gutting out a victory over the wunderkinds from Montana U. Alas not even craig's dynamic leadership could overcome this herculean task and the beavers ultimately succumbed 66-71.

Oh what could have been. We are wistful that henry bienen et al didn't heed the wise words of those who were singing mr robinson's tune.

FoB of the week: massey

This week's Friend of the Blog is massey ratings. Not only do these good folks perform yeoman's work throughout the year compiling compendia of the various college basketball (and college football) rankings scattered across the interwebs but also they have what in our view (for the moment) is a vastly superior ranking system of their own for college basketball.

You see massey in its infinite wisdom sees nu basketball as the 34th best program in all the land whereas those curmudgeons over at kenpom have nu in the low 50s not to mention the glue sniffing mcpaper loving losers over at sagarin who have nu in the low 70s. Massey agrees with the infallible good sports journalists and coaches who have nu ranked in the low- to mid- 30s as well.

But that's just the tip(off) of the iceberg. Massey have also broken their way into the prediction stranglehold that kenpom has recklessly and carelessly wielded upon the masses for years. The beacons of light at massey predict nu to go a sterling 20-8 on the year including a 10-8 mark in the big ten. We can forgive them for not just handing us the second msg game because computers are built that way. 21-8 before the big ten tourney has a nice ring to it.

In contrast those naysayers over at kenpom have nu going 5-13 in conference. Say what? They must have the keys to the walgreens pharmacy to gather the nerve to publish such nonsense. Pretty much the only big ten team that massey gives nu a lower chance of beating than does kenpom are the mighty michiganders. Michigan has raised some eyebrows over here at carmodycourt so we can't really quibble too much with this minor oversight by massey et al.

13 December 2010

Nu 81 long island 65

Nu led throughout. With teams as good as nu is this year games like this are not much more than a nice little scrimmage which are pretty boring for all but the real hoop heads. Best hope for games like this is for nu to work on some stuff on defense and try to get some subs some time. Oh and no injuries.

Nu did work on its matchup zone but hard to tell much against an inferior and undersized opponent. Nu got subs some time thanks to the ref's whistle. It was ugly when juice sat. No wonder he plays 40 minutes when the games mean something. And certainly last but not least is the best thing about the game: no one got hurt.

kenpom.com watch: predicted score nu 84 liu 67. Pretty darn good if you ask us.

Nu's magic number: 14

11 December 2010

Analyzing conference play

Nu must take care of business in the non-conference still. Now that we have a better feel for our conference foes we think it's a good time to look ahead to what lays ahead next year.

To get out the dancing shoes in our estimation nu will need to go 9-9 in conference now that the big ten’s grip status as top dog conference appears to be slipping. Below we organize nu’s conference games into four categories: egg, low hanging fruit, bling, and Wheaties games.

“Egg games” are those in which NU is currently favored (per kenpom.com). As any follower of nu basketball knows it is dangerous to count these as wins before they hatch, and a loss in any of these games would be the proverbial egg on the face. There are five conference games against the projected lower tier big ten teams at the welsh which fall into this category:

Indiana, Michigan, Iowa, penn state, Minnesota

If all goes to plan (it won’t) and nu wins these conference games as expected but no other conference games then the big dance dreams will once again be put on hold. So where will the other wins most likely come from?

Low hanging fruit

Three away games against the projected lower tier big ten teams are the most obvious candidates for nu upset wins. Nothing extraordinary would be needed to win them. Just get into that tree and pick the fruit hanging within reach. These three games are:

at Iowa, at Michigan, at penn state.

Grab all of the low hanging fruit (won’t happen) on top of all the egg games and nu would sit at eight conference wins with zero no resume building “good wins.” That’s still not good enough.


There are four games that have potential to be resume builders, games that nu could win and then show them off as bling to the ncaa tournament selection committee. To be sure in order to win these games nu will need to play close to its full potential. An nu win would raise some eyebrows and garner attention in the beauty pageant polls, but they would not be headline grabbing wins.

Michigan state, Wisconsin and Illinois at the welsh, Indiana at assembly hall.

In our estimation we will need to grab two of these four bling.

The remaining six conference games look beyond reach on paper. As the old slogan goes nu better eat its Wheaties before these games if they hope to win.

Purdue at mackey, Minnesota at the barn, Michigan state at breslin, Ohio state at the welsh, Illinois at assembly, Wisconsin at kohl.

Though all of these Wheaties games are real stretches, nu has proven capable of winning one or two of these games over the past couple of years. We’d be willing to bet this trend continues.

So our best guess as to what will play out:

Egg 4-1
Low Hanging Fruit 2-1
Bling 2-2
Wheaties 1-5
Overall 9-9

That’s one bad loss, one great win, and two tourney building games. Go undefeated or lose one game in the non-conference combined with a first round win in the big ten tourney. Add it all up and it’s 20+ wins and an invite to a first round ncaa game.

07 December 2010

Trip down memory lane

Nu 70 msu 63
Jan 21 2009
Breslin center


Why bring it up? If lorretta8 of sippin on purple feels compelled to revisit the "low point" of the carmody era in narrowly defeating wheaton college then feng shui compels us to bring things back into balance by looking at the high point. Or are we thinking of yin and yang?

06 December 2010

Filling the lull with kenpom statistics

As most students--including our true student-athletes who are glorified on this blog--are busy cramming for final exams because they did not have the foresight/were too lazy to opt for the final paper option, we at carmody court are here to fill the void with some early statistical analysis. Courtesy of kenpom:

Nu is currently #11 in the nation in offense efficiency and #131 in defense efficiency. Offense is an improvement of 22 spots over last year's impressive #33 offense. So what was already a strength looks to be even stronger.

However pretty much everyone who follows nu basketball knows that the key to making the big dance this year is to improvement on defense. The early returns are a good news/bad news kinda deal. The good news is that nu is improved over last year on the order of 38 spots. The bad news is that this is tempered by the fact that nu has played the 316th easiest schedule (out of 360 some odd programs). So any conclusions are tentative at best and subject to change once the schedule bumps up in degree of difficulty (no duh!).

Since defense is so important we decided to delve a little more deeply into the improvement to date. kenpom uses "four factors" when computing defense efficiency. The area of greatest improvement amongst these factors is offense rebounding percentage (or in this context, nu's defensive rebounding percentage). Last year nu was a subpar #216 in this statistic while this year nu is at a very respectable #41. That kind of improvement is clearly colored by strength of schedule as these kinds of leaps simply don't happen for teams that have really only one major change to the roster (cobb for nash, ok jeff ryan added to the mix is another change). four of the five opponents so far are abysmal at offensive rebounds. only ga tech is good at crashing the offensive boards.

Nearly as great an area of improvement is FTA/FGA which improved from a dismal #256 to a respectable #86. So NU is no longer foul prone. We shall see if that continues as the level of athletes improves. Again ga tech not withstanding.

Turnover percentage has improved slightly from #161 to #130. No big revelation here.

The biggest red flag that we see is that effective field goal percentage has actually grown worse from a so-so #143 ranking to a lowly #213 ranking (50.o% efg%). Against this lowly competition? Not good.

So we have an overall improvement on defense but really can't put much stock in it due to the competition. What's worse is that we are letting bad teams shoot the heck out of the ball. The good news is that there should be some offensive shows at the welsh this year. The bad news is there is reason to think that the defense may once again be this team's Achilles heel.

NU ranked #31/#34

Polls were just released. Coaches have nu ranked #31, writers #34. We were actually hoping for higher but results not surprising given where we started (off the radar).

Win the tourney at msg and top 25 is within sight.

03 December 2010

We're number 24

We got all excited about the Yahoo! User Rankings when we saw Northwestern listed at #24. Then it dawned on us that this is totally manipulated by losers like mizzou and domer fans who have nothing better to do than inflate their team rankings on some meaningless poll. Real men of genius.......


02 December 2010

On jershon cobb and last thoughts on the tech game

The kid got game, but he is a typical freshman who regularly exhibits poor decision making. This is most apparent when he handles the ball against pressure, his passing in general, and he doesn't know how closely he can push the envelope on defense without fouling.

We have confidence that he will grow out of these problem areas as he gets acclimated to major college ball. He will be a nice complement to drew crawford for the next few years.

Just a couple of additional thoughts about the tech game before we promise to move on. First, what the heck were the starters doing in the game up by 25 with 5 minutes to play. Second, shumpert had an off game for him but it is clear that he is a baller.

Juice Thompson a dirty player?

There was some mild hullabaloo made about some poll that showed juice's peers rated him the dirtiest player in the big ten. We have to be honest--we never thought of juice as a dirty player, but we just filed away that nugget to see if there was much basis to that assertion.

Well ladies and gents let's go to the videotape (or dvr/TiVo if you want to go all 21st century). Check out the 12:30 mark of the second half. On a seemingly innocuous play that resulted in a tech foul, just prior to the foul juice gave iman shumpert a not-so-gentle two handed shove that would make our football ol proud. Shumpert went flying back a few feet and then had this quizzical look on his face after the whistle blew on his teammate of all people.

There were another couple of instances of push offs, but really the only other excessive looking one occurred in the first half on a clear out for a shurna three. Juice did hit the ground as he shoved shumpert so maybe he tripped. We do find it curious that shumpert was on the business end of two Thompson hard shoves. Maybe juice took it personally that shumpert, who is a class behind juice, didn't think nu had enough talent to commit to nu. Dunno.

The one play that possibly be dirty was near the very end of the first half where the ball bounded out and juice hit the floor with a tech big. It was pretty hard to tell if juice gave a little extra oomph to push the techie into the floor but there wasn't exactly any love lost between the two as they picked themselves up off the floor.

Dirty? That seems a bit much. We'd call it crafty. Check that. Let's call it wily which sounds more befitting for a northwestern player.

Interesting kenpom factoids

According to kenpom.com five big ten teams are in the top 25 of adjusted offensive efficiency and five are in the top 25 of adjusted defensive efficiency. four big ten teams are in the top 25 of both categories (ohio state, michigan state, illinois, wisconsin).

Despite getting shellacked by northwestern's prolific offense Georgia tech's defense is still in the top 50. I wonder how high they were before nu scored at will against them.

Blog maintenance

Thank you "whiskers" for pointing out that our sagarin link was out of date. It has been updated. The rest of you in carmody court nation are welcome/encouraged to drop us a line to let us know if we are negligent in our upkeep of this blog.

Shurna atop big ten in scoring

and tied for 13th in the nation at 22.4 ppg. as a mildly interesting side note johnny shurna is tied with vlad moldoveanu who has been tearing up the nets at american university in capital city usa. three thoughts come to mind:

1. vlad. cool name. i checked and it's not in the top 1,000 american baby names so i'll go out on a limb and guess he ain't from the usa.
2. moldoveanu. so where is he from? moldova? naw. too obvious. my guess is romania just because that romanian dictator's last name ended with a u (i'm no history major, and i'm too lazy to google the dude's name)
3. who will win the scoring battle when vlad makes his way to evanston? will he pull a xavier silas and pad the stats in garbage time against the end of our bench?

Post Big Ten-ACC Challenge Power Rankings

The nice thing about the challenge is that it is a good chance to see where all the Big Ten teams are currently at...

1. Ohio state. Awesome on both ends of court (+1 from preseason ranking)
2. Michigan state. #2 already? Sparty is well ahead of pace which a scary thought (-1)
3. Illinois. Impressive game all around against the tarholes (+2)
4. Wisconsin. One word: defense (no change)
5. Northwestern. One word: offense (+1)
6. Purdue. Some say that was good defense against VT; we say it was middling basketball (-3)
7. Minnesota. Not a bad team, but Big Ten is STACKED (n/c)
8. Indiana. Ugly loss at BC brings the hosers back to reality (n/c)
9. Michigan. Nice upset win bumps 'em up a notch (+1)
10. Penn state. Ugly loss at home to twerps (-1)
11. Iowa. Someone has to be the caboose (n/c)

01 December 2010

Big ten squeaks out 6-5 victory

Ok, msu is currently playing duke with 3 mins to go, but the writing is on the wall. This shoulda been a bigger big ten romp. But...

The gophers shit the bed as previously noted
The hawkeyes are truly bad
The nit wits have only one good player
The hoosiers are still a year away
Sparty can't protect the rock

It took Purdue to salvage this challenge with a rather fortunate ot win at vatech. Yuck.

Most impressive were nu, illini, badgers, and Osu in their victories. Michigan surprised on the road, but Clemson was just being Clemson, new coach same as the old coach...

Nu wrecks tech, internets abuzz

As snowflakes fell through the crisp Evanston evening the snowballernaut that is nu basketball picked up significant momentum courtesy of a typically clueless Georgia tech squad. 55 sweet points rained down through the nets off nu hands in a first half like none seen before under sir carmodys steady hand. The rout was on with the stingless yellow jackets never able to close the gap to single digits in the second half.

Garbage time against an acc opponent. Final score 91-71? This is what uncharted waters look like nu fans. Enjoy the ride all the way to selection Sunday!

Magic number: 15

29 November 2010

Big Ten - ACC Challenge 2010

Well, goldie just shit the bed and lost one of the big ten's most winnable games on paper during this year's challenge. Way to go azzhats. We knew they were gonna come back to earth, but we had hoped it wouldn't be until January. $&@@#%^%#!!!!

Most telling statistic:
Second half scoring
UVA 58
Minn 40


What's really amusing that homers over there on gopher hole really have been drinking the koolaid and think they are the #2 team in the big ten when healthy. Say what?!?!?!?

Getting back to the subject of this post, we were hoping for a 7-4 victory this year, but now we're worried about squeaking out another 6-5 victory this year.

26 November 2010

Creighton homers

John Templon had some creighton blogger predict a bluejay victory at Welsh-Ryan. Say what? Did Nate Funk find another year of eligibility? Kyle Korver?

Give us a break. Frankly anything less than a comfortable 10 point Northwestern romp would be a moral victory for the bluejays. Their best hope will be to outgun us (a theme that is shaping up for the entire year) and the jays are bringing a pop gun to this showdown.

With the victory over the jays, nu's magic number will be 16.

25 November 2010

Over/under on wins needed to make ncaas

Ok it is like way premature for this kind of post, but i'm high on moms thanksgiving dinner and seeing the good ol' crystal ball.


Big Ten has highest or second highest RPI.
At least one of NU's non-conference opponents makes the NIT or better.

We say 20 wins and NU is in.


I don't think it matters how nu gets there but 20 is the target ladies and gents. Now I know 20 wins got us to the NIT last year, but the combo of 68 teams invited to the big dance and an improved big ten will be enough to make the difference this year.

10 November 2010

Ok now we are PRIMED for THE SEASON!


Thank you lindsey for getting the juices a-flowin! It was such a fun and bullish read that we'll give you a pass for dropping in that 20 win comment regarding last season, as if that plateau has much meaning in this day and age of 30+ game schedules.

Our favorite parts:

1. The cobb blurb -best athlete sounds like he will fill a void
2. Capoccci looks ready to break out (we saw signs of this late last season)
3. The improvements that shurna can and will make this season (wow!)
4. Crawford has made a leap (we have seen hopes for a shurna type breakthrough, which is pretty unlikely since those rarely happen, and he doesn't need to fill a huge coble sized hole)

Interesting nuggets courtesy of cbs

From the "whoda thunk it" category:


"During the offseason, according to the Daily Herald, 17 boosters teamed up to donate $140,000 so the Wildcats could make a 10-day trip to Italy prior to their fall quarter."

From the longstanding futility statistics department:


"If he had made one more basket during league play last year, Shurna would have been the first NU player to lead the league in scoring (conference games only) since Ray Ragelis in 1951. Shurna averaged 20.1 points in league games."

From the what if department

Pe'shon Howard, who is a freshman guard for Maryland, just knocked down the game winner for the terps. Some may recall nu was in on howard before he broke our hearts. Well, the kid is showing game just two starts into his collegiate career, with 14 points on 6-7 shooting and 1-1 from downtown.

We will be watching mr Howard as his collegiate career progresses.

09 November 2010

Preseason big ten power rankings

Well the season is finally upon us. Nu will have to make its historic run for the ncaas without Kevin coble. Much like last year. We expect things to turn out with a happier ending than last year. No, get your minds out of the gutter. Not THAT kind of happy ending. One night in Bangkok makes a hard man crumble...

Enough. On to more important business. Preseason power rankings!

1. Michigan state. Same old same old.
2. Ohio state. No Evan turner? No problem. Thad matta recruiting express rolls along.
3. Purdue. No hubble again. Our sister program, but with success.
4. Wisconsin. Bo Ryan works his magic. Yet again.
5. Illinois. Weber recruits finally arrive, and the illini still pine away for bill self.
6. Northwestern. Net gains from last years squad, all due respect to Jeremy Nash.
7. Minnesota. We like tubby, but can't see him cracking top half (or so we hope).
8. Indiana. Crean is nearly done with the reclamation project.
9. Penn state. Good coach gets the nod over...
10. Michigan. No manny could be a plus, but still...
11. Iowa. New coach takes over lickliters mess

16 June 2010

Utah to Pac 12. End game?

As expected the Pac10 added Utah to make a round dozen of schools to allow for a conference championship. Most folks are calling this the end of the realignment.

Not so fast (ugh, why did I write that? I hate Lee Corso).

What no one seems to be focusing on is what will be the MWC's next move now that they are back down to nine schools? Clearly they are actively seeking to be a relevant player in the college football landscape. What is their next course of action in this endeavor? Will they again raid the WAC? If so, Fresno St seems like a decent target given its CA locale. Perhaps Nevada or Idaho are targets which would get the MWC to twelve schools, a conference championship game, and potential automatic BCS invite. But, these two schools seem rather blah even by MWC standards.

Is it possible that the MWC goes all Pac10 on the college football world and tries to upset the apple cart again? If I'm the MWC, what do I have to lose from taking a flier and attempting to raid the unstable Big XII? Wouldn't it be rich if the MWC invited Texas Tech and Oklahoma State to the party and thereby solve TX's "Tech problem"? Surely these two feel like they are in no man's land between their big brothers (TX, A&M, OU) and the Big XII have-nots. It seems risky for these two schools, but they aren't upwardly mobile under the status quo and are bound to continue losing ground to big brothers. If these two don't go for the bait, maybe MO, KSU, KU, ISU, and/or Baylor would listen to the MWC's pitch.

Stay tuned as this thing ain't over yet. Let's wait and see what the MWC's next move is (and the WAC for that matter) before turning our eyes to the fall.

15 June 2010

Blue balled conference realignment

Well so much for the seismic shift in conference affiliations. Talk about anti-climatic. What a friggin tease!

With the Big XII's existence safe for now, it looks like this will only be a minor reshuffling of the conference decks. The Pac 10 may add another team (Utah), the MWC may raid the WAC again or pick up another team from elsewhere. And the WAC will need to make itself whole after losing Boise St and maybe another school.

So what happened? How did the Big XII get rescued when at the brink of extinction? A band of mysterious and unknown shadowy individuals came together to ride in on their high horses and come to the rescue. Let's call them the Nazgul as there are nine likely candidates who formed an unholy coalition to preserve the status quo.

First is first though... what did it take to maintain the status quo? Simple. Give Texas what it wants -- namely, more money and its Bevo network. A good short term fix for UT, but eventually Oklahoma and A&M are going to see they have better options to the south and east. This unstable equilibrium ain't gonna last long.

So who worked behind the scenes to use Dan Beebe as champion for the status quo? The nine Nazgul, in order from most to least motivated:

1. Notre Dame -- It is a no brainer that they were leading the race to save the Big XII. For better or worse, they will only give up independence on their death bed.
2. Texas -- there is little doubt they wanted this outcome, short-sighted as it may be.
3. Mizzou/KSU/Baylor/KU/ISU AD coalition -- these five were staring at oblivion. Desperate times call for desperate measures even if it means falling farther behind the conference haves.
4. Media execs-- This includes NBC, ABC/ESPN, CBS, and FSN (among others). All of them would lose bargaining power and hence money under major realignment.
5. BCS bowl execs coalition -- their little gravy train would've been threatened as playoffs would be a natural outcome of consolidation
6. ACC commish -- compelled by contagion fears, only recently got conference on path to position of strength
7. Big East commish -- see six
6. Lower bowl execs coalition -- see five
9. NCAA exec -- their power is inversely related to schools' collective power

I've seen speculation that the SEC got what it wanted -- the status quo. Whether this is true or not, I don't think they were active in saving the Big XII as the rich tend to get richer under these situations -- and the SEC (along with the Big Ten and Texas) overflows with college football wealth. There is no doubt in my mind that the SEC was poised to gain under realignment with the addition of A&M and one or more of the following: OU, VaTech, WVU.

I've also seen speculation that the Big Ten had an interest in slowing this down to reassess the new landscape. I doubt the Big Ten, the catalyst for these changes, was behind the rescue of the Big XII since it had considered most every scenario and was prepared to make its own maximizing moves under severe time pressure. Since other players may not have been so prepared then there is little to gain and possibly something to lose for things to slow down from the Big Ten's perspective.

11 June 2010

Prediction on realignment

Big Ten adds NE, TX, ND
SEC adds A&M, OK
Pac10 adds CO, MO, UT, KS
MWC adds TX Tech, KS ST, IA ST, OK ST, Baylor

07 June 2010

On Big Ten Expansion

This year's void from big college revenue sports action has been filled by talk of big ten expansion. We at carmodycourt are grateful for this great source of rumor fodder to help pass the time.

This is a great opportunity to apply some game theory principles to what we have seen play out. Some of the most enlightened thought on this topic has been provided by illini lawyer blogger frank the tank (great movie btw).

What ftt has seemed to hone in on is the big ten and its influencing factors and decision drivers. This led to the astute observation that tejas and nd are the big fish. Where ftt has been somewhat less focused upon are the why's and the who elses.

The biggest question in our mind when the news first broke wasn't which schools would be added but rather why announce expansion intentions at all? To do so would seemingly give up the value of secret negotiations.

The a nouncement told us one of two things about the big ten's goals for expansion.

1. Primary target is nd.

Secret negotiations and/or nd-specific negotiations in the past failed to lure the domers. Public announcement sets major conference reallignments in motion which could help push nd in. Most interesting rumor that supports this is the big east telling nd to leave in order to protect itself from getting decimated by big ten expansion east.


2. Expansion was never about just going to 12.

This is not necessarily true as nd is possibly big tens only objective, but this is very likely about going to 14+ teams. It's easy to hold confidential conversations with one party. It's impossible to do so when speaking with more than one other party, particularly here since decisions to reallignments are likely to be interdependent of others decisions. No use keeping cat in bag here.

06 April 2010

Congratulations to the Dukies

We had our doubts about Duke but they answered the bell and vanquished all comers. What a game against Butler! Oh if only Hayward knocked down that half court buzzer beater for the victory....................

Vaya con dios, Kyle Rowley

It was announced today that Kyle Rowley is transferring to another institution where he can get more playing time. We wish Kyle nothing but the best in his future endeavors. Kyle has the potential to become a solid basketball player given the right environment -- we hope he finds that place and makes NU fans rue this day.

When we first learned of this news our thoughts immediately turned to "why?" Is it really because of lack of playing time? Or were the winters too much of a change from T&T's balmy climate? Or did he feel that NU fans was too harsh and too impatient with him? We hope it's not the latter as it would be unfortunate that some petulant tools hiding behind the cloak of a keyboard affected a man's life. Not only that but we would have to question whether the transfer would solve this problem as fans are the same everywhere (maybe not so vocal or at least transparent at schools with "smaller" basketball programs).

28 March 2010

Thanks for nothing Baylor

We will have to endure more Duke talk and watch wojo and Collins hop off the bench. We will have to watch mikey k squeeze some more diamonds from his puckered derier and dukie floor slaps. Worst of all we will have to suffer through more gloating from the insufferable dukie fans. Fuck me.

26 March 2010

On the Elite Eight

Big Ten
Expected Sweet 16 Result: 1-2
Actual Sweet 16 Result: 1-2
Analysis: OSU disappointed but MSU surprised. We hate to say we told you so, but we told you so. The Big Ten is who we thought they were.....

Expected Sweet 16 Result: 1-1
Actual Sweet 16 Result: 2-0
Analysis: As we foreshadowed in our previous recap the SEC enters the Elite 8 smelling like a rose. Same might be said come Sunday with two very winnable games for KY and TN.

Expected Sweet 16 Result: 2-0
Actual Sweet 16 Result: 2-0
Analysis: The Big XII is finally living up to its billing. Imagine if Kansas hadn't been upset? KSU is tough on defense and opportunistic on offense. Sounds alot like Butler, their next opponent...

Big East
Expected Sweet 16 Result: 2-0
Actual Sweet 16 Result: 1-1
Analysis: The Big East is the Big Least. Syrexcuse is baaaaack. WVU has a tough game against Kentucky to help the conference regain some of its face.

Expected Sweet 16 Result: 1-0
Actual Sweet 16 Result: 1-0
Analysis: Duke won as expected. Yawn. Purdue is nothing more than a Sweet 16 team without Hummel. Oh puke! I just heard Seth Davis tooting Scheyer's horn. Baylor better expose these losers for who they are.....

West Coast
Expected Sweet 16 Result: 0-1
Actual Sweet 16 Result: 0-1
Analysis: Boo!!!!!! St Mary's cinderella story came to crashing halt against Baylor. Thanks for the memories, Gaels.

Pac 10
Expected Sweet 16 Result: 0-1
Actual Sweet 16 Result: 0-1
Analysis: Washington's loss was to be expected against a rugged WVU team. Not a good year for the Pac 10 by any stretch, but the conference's demise was greatly exaggerated.....

The rest
Butler continued to expose the Big East as a fraud with the victory over Syracuse, Cornell lost to Kentucky in a game that reminds us that great disparities of talent usually make a difference, and Northern Iowa lost to MSU which happens to many very good teams this time of year. Last year NU defeated the eventual national runnerup. Here's hoping that Butler (and MSU) make it to the Final Four so that we can take some solace that the losses against those teams were pretty understandable in retrospect.

Yes, even if that make Seth Davis' early prediction of Butler in the Final Four ring true. Besides that tool didn't even pick them in his actual bracket so it's hard to give him much credit. Give us many bites at the apple and we can pick and choose predictions that makes us look good too!

25 March 2010

On NCAAs and Conference Performance up to Sweet 16

Big East

Teams: 8
Expected 1st Round Result: 7-1
Actual 1st Round Result: 4-4
Expected 2nd Round Result: 4-0
Actual 2nd Round Result: 2-2
Analysis: The Big East with the number of admitted teams and high seeds was set up to fail. And fail it has. Major disappointment. Syracuse and WVU carry the flag into the Sweet 16, and both teams have injury considerations.


Teams: 7
Expected 1st Round Result: 6-1
Actual 1st Round Result: 5-2
Expected 2nd Round Result: 3-2
Actual 2nd Round Result: 2-3
Analysis: The Big XII was the conference with the second highest number of bids. It has slightly underperformed but not nearly to the extent that the Big East has. The biggest disappointment has to be the loss by #1 overall seed Kansas in the 2nd round. Kansas St and Baylor hope to carry the flag into the Sweet 16, and both very well could make it into the weekend with seemingly favorable matchups.


Teams: 6
Expected 1st Round Result: 3-3
Actual 1st Round Result: 4-2
Expected 2nd Round Result: 2-2
Actual 2nd Round Result: 1-3
Analysis: Perennial media favorite ACC has performed about as expected though the conference is down to pinning hopes on #1 seed Duke. Duke doesn't blow us away with its talent but a very favorable region could very well mean they make it to the Final Four as expected for a #1 seed.

Big Ten

Teams: 5
Expected 1st Round Result: 4-1
Actual 1st Round Result: 4-1
Expected 2nd Round Result: 3-1
Actual 2nd Round Result: 3-1
Analysis: Big Ten fans point to having the most teams in the Sweet Sixteen (3) as vindication for perceived slights by media/fans across the country. Say what? Here's a newsflash to those folks crowing: the Big Ten was supposed to have three teams at this point. Let's see what happens over the next four days before getting ahead of ourselves now shall we?


Teams: 4
Expected 1st Round Result: 3-1
Actual 1st Round Result: 2-2
Expected 2nd Round Result: 1-1
Actual 2nd Round Result: 2-0
Analysis: SEC was a little bruised by Vandy's loss to Murray St in Round 1 but are now feeling a little better about themselves as Tennessee unexpectedly made it into the Sweet 16. Kentucky is an obvious front runner but may feel like they're playing a team from Mars in their Sweet 16 matchup against Cornell. Both KY and TN may make it to the Elite 8 or beyond.

Mountain West

Teams: 4
Expected 1st Round Result: 3-1
Actual 1st Round Result: 2-2
Expected 2nd Round Result: 1-1
Actual 2nd Round Result: 0-2
Analysis: The Selection Committee may be feeling a bit burned by their decision to admit four teams from the MWC. Their reward for being so generous to the interior westerners? Zero teams in the Sweet 16. This disappointing performance by a mid major conference could come back to haunt them during selection committee deliberations next year.

Atlantic 10

Teams: 3
Expected 1st Round Result: 3-0
Actual 1st Round Result: 1-2
Expected 2nd Round Result: 0-1
Actual 2nd Round Result: 0-1
Analysis: The A10 received the second most invites of the mid major conferences. As was the case with the MWC, the A10 invites next year may suffer based on the results this year. Sure the A10 wasn't supposed to have any teams in the Sweet 16, but a poor first round performance coupled with no big upsets is sure to underwhelm college basketball observers and reinforce the notion that mid majors don't belong in the NCAAs (but do well in the NIT -- the A10 has two of the final four teams in that also ran tourney!).

West Coast

Teams: 2
Expected 1st Round Result: 1-1
Actual 1st Round Result: 2-0
Expected 2nd Round Result: 0-2
Actual 2nd Round Result: 1-1
Analysis: The conference that brought us delight so many years ago when Gonzaga burst onto the national scene is at it again. Gonzaga has long since been recognized for its strong program but now it is St Mary's, still alive in the Sweet 16, that has people all excited about west coast basketball (something needed to fill the Pac 10 void!). The WCC continues to do well by mid majors around the country.

Pac 10

Teams: 2
Expected 1st Round Result: 1-1
Actual 1st Round Result: 2-0
Expected 2nd Round Result: 0-2
Actual 2nd Round Result: 1-1
Analysis: The Pac 10 took its lumps all season and was actually expected to only get one team into the NCAAs. Washington sneaked in by winning their conference tourney, and they have shown themselves worthy as they are playing in the Sweet 16. The Pac 10 has actually acquitted itself pretty nicely in this tourney, but we intentionally put them below the WCC, despite similar NCAA performances, as a shout out to mid major fans across the Carmody Court Continuum.


Teams: 2 (each)
Expected 1st Round Result: 0-2
Actual 1st Round Result: 0-2
Expected 2nd Round Result: NA
Actual 2nd Round Result: NA
Analysis: We lump these two mid major conferences together because of their similarities in number of teams invited and the performances in the tourney. Suffice it to say that performance in this year's tourney doesn't merit individual attention. Hopes for big first round upsets by teams from these conferences fell horribly flat. Maybe these conferences will only get one bid each next year.

The rest

Six teams from the following one bid conferences, the Colonial (ODU), the Horizon (Butler), the Ivy (Cornell), the MAC (Ohio), the MVC (Northern Iowa), the Ohio Valley (Murray St) have given college basketball fans the red meat they so desire from the Big Dance. Each of these teams scored first round wins (only Butler was expected to win) and three of these underdog teams (Butler, Cornell, Northern Iowa) are still alive. You better believe the nation will eschew their brackets littered with red ink and pull for Cornell to score the big upset against Kentucky and for Northern Iowa to be rewarded for its upset of Kansas by also making road kill out of Michigan State. We know that we will.

19 March 2010

NU season ends in Kingston

URI slowly pulled away from Northwestern en route to a 76-64 victory. Once again defense was Northwestern's (20-14, 7-11) Achilles heel. This time it was freshman bomber Akeem Richmond who stuck several daggers into the Wildcats.

So the focus again switches away from NU for the next couple of weeks as teams battle in the NCAAs. This is our favorite time of the year as we can't wait to hear what that moron Seth Davis has to say.

Let's see if Butler makes that Final Four run he infamously predicted at the beginning of the season. His love for the Big East looks to be right on the money per usual for him. And his call that Spokane was going to be the site of big upsets today is off to rousing start (Purdue is easily handling Siena).

Along the way we'll do the conference recaps. The Big Ten had no games yesterday so we'll kick that off soon enough now that first blood has been drawn today.

15 March 2010

Better Know an Opponent: University of Rhode Island

On Wednesday March 17 #7 seed Northwestern (20-13, 7-11 Big Ten) travels to Kingston to take on the #2 seed University of Rhode Island (23-9, 9-7 Atlantic 10). Television coverage will be provided on ESPNU. WGN-AM 720 and wgnradio.com will have the radio coverage.

URI Quick Facts:
Location: Kingston, RI
Arena: Ryan Center (they have their own version of Pat Ryan -- read on)
Official Nickname: Rams
Coach: Jim Baron (9th season)
Team Colors: Light Blue, Dark Blue and White
Mascot: Rhody the Ram (created in 1974 after the last live ram died in "the accident")
Conference: Atlantic 10 (A-10)
Student Population: 19K
Famous Alums: Several NBA alums headlined by Lamar Odom, a couple of golfers, John King, Christiane Amanpour, Thomas Ryan (CVS CEO, namesake of new arena).

One would expect URI to have a long and rich history given its location in the original 13 colonies, right? Certainly they have more history than some school that is located in the former northwest territory, no? Errr, try again. URI was charted in 1888 as an agricultural school and was originally known as the Rhode Island College oF Agriculture and Mechanic Arts. The school was eventually renamed to the University of Rhode Island in 1951.

The school is proud of its engineering and nursing programs as well as its graduate program in oceanography. Why are there no famous oceanographers or nurses hailing from Kingston? It would be cool to see a Clara Barton or a Jacques Cousteau show up on the notable alumni list would it not?

Projected Starting Five:

G Marquis Jones 6'1" 200 #5 Jr.
G Keith Cothran 6'4" 195 #22 Sr.
G Lamonte Ulmer 6'6" 215 #15 Sr.
F Delroy James 6'8" 220 #21 Sr.
C Will Martell 7'0" 245 #32 Jr.

The Rams go eight deep with the likes of Steve Mejia (5'9" Soph guard), Akeem Richmond (6'1" Fresh guard), and Orion Outerbridge (6'9" Soph forward) each playing over 1/3rd of available minutes.

Only Akeem Richmond is particularly efficient from distance (39%). Lamonte Ulmer and Will Martell take many high percentage shots from "close in". Keith Cothran is the steady senior leader who is most involved in the offense but protects the ball. Delroy James is also a fixture on offense and a stat sheet stuffer ala Drew Crawford.

These Rams are unlike any animal that NU played this year. On offense, they resemble Illinois in terms of efficiency, tempo, and point distribution. They do manage to rebound the offensive glass better than the Illini. On defense they are most similar to Michigan, though they are a poor man's version at that. They are significantly less efficient than the Wolverines but are similar in terms of turnover percentage, offensive rebounding defense, and their overall softness inside.

The key to this game will be NU's ability to exploit the Rams' weakness on the interior defense, protect the ball, and control the pace of play. On offense, we will need to safely navigate the organized chaos that the Rams throw at their opponents. Juice Thompson -- we're looking at you!

Once the ball is brought safely into the front court, NU will need to pound the ball down low to Luka Mirkovic and John Shurna. Some good interior passing between the two would be a great way to neutralize Will Martell's shot blocking ability. Finally, NU will want to play a base matchup zone most of the game as URI is not adept at running its half court offense. There's no use in going heavy on 1-3-1 against a team that is good at protecting the ball. We suggest sprinkling in the 1-3-1 as a change up as well as a three quarter court press if it appears URI is getting comfortable against the base matchup zone.

What to expect? NU was 2-1 against NIT teams including a victory at NC State. Although we expect Vegas to make NU about a 5 point dog we still like NU's chances.

Northwestern nets NIT bid, travels to URI on Wednesday

The NIT loves us. They really, really love us. In a somewhat surprising move, the NIT selected Northwestern with its last at large bid despite an RPI of 116. We're glad Jim Phillips got our message about hammering home the importance of the Sagarin and Pomeroy statistics as they definitely shed NU in a better light.

There hasn't always been this love affair between the NIT and NU. Back in the days when NIT wasn't run by the NCAAs and was most concerned with making Benjamins Northwestern was treated by the NIT selection committee like a red headed step child. One year NU finished at .500 in the Big Ten but was left out of the NCAAs in favor of questionable teams such as Manhattan. Excuses like a poor finish and poor RPI were thrown out as excuses, but we know the real reason: NU's poor home attendance.

More on NU's second consecutive NIT berth to come......

12 March 2010

brief post from indianapolis

Iphone is great but not best for long posts. Yesterday nu woke up in 2nd half to beat pathetic iu by 15 in btt and now take on purdue tonight. nu has had success against purdue so there it hope.

We hope luka and drew feel better. We need them to contribute. Hummel is out for purdue so that helps nu's cause.

Go cats.

08 March 2010

Big Ten Power Rankings as of March 8 2010

1. Ohio State (14-4)
Last week OSU defeated Illinois at home. No change.

2. Wisconsin (13-5)
UW defeated Iowa at home and won at Illinois. Plus one.
3. Michigan State (14-4)
Last week MSU narrowly defeated Penn State and Michigan at home. Minus one.

4. Purdue (14-4)
PU defeated Indiana at home and narrowly won at Penn State. No change.

5. Illinois (10-8)
Last week UI lost at Ohio State and were skunked by Wisconsin at home. Channeling our inner Dennis Green, "they are who we thought they are." No change.

6. Minnesota (9-9)
Last week UM lost at Michigan and defeated Iowa at home. No change.

7. Northwestern (7-11)
Last week NU lost at Indiana in OT. No change.

8. Michigan (7-11)
Last week UM defeated Minnesota at home and lost at Michigan State. No change.
9. Penn State (3-15)
Last week PSU lost to two close games at Michigan State and at home to Purdue. If we were to wipe the slate clean the Nit Wits would be ranked fifth. Too bad for them it don't work that way. No change
10. Iowa (4-14)
Last week Iowa imploded and were blown out in roadies at Minnesota and Wisconsin. No change.
11. Indiana (4-14)
Last week IU lost at Purdue and defeated Northwestern at home. These guys really are bad which says just how we feel about NU's play to end the season. No change.

05 March 2010

Countdown to Northwestern at Indiana

Northwestern travels to The Hall to take on Indiana at 11:00AM Central on Saturday March 6. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network and radio coverage is on WGN 720-AM and wgnradio.com.

The game is yet again being built up as a potentially historic game for NU. In its last game, Northwestern (19-11, 7-10 Big Ten) won a record 19th game this season as it bombed lowly Chicago State into submission to the tune of 72-49. That hollow victory gives NU the opportunity to win its 20th game against Indiana.

There really isn't anything special about win #20 other than it is a round number. Does it really mean much that Northwestern racked up 12 wins against relatively poor non-conference opponents this year? No. What's more telling to us is that NU is gunning for its eighth conference win on Saturday. This is the same conference win total as last year, and a win tomorrow would mark the third time during Bill Carmody's tenure that NU won eight conference games during the regular season.

In fact the first time NU made it to eight wins during the 2003-04 season is arguably more impressive since there were only 16 conference games back then. The most telling part about how little the 20th victory plateau means this year is that, unlike last year, there is no hope of an at-large bid for the NCAAs on the eve of the last game of the regular season.

In any event Northwestern looks to win at Assembly Hall where it embarrassed the Hoosiers last year. In theory the Hoosiers are extra motivated by that game as well as the loss earlier this year in Evanston. In reality the Hoosiers are terrible and in about as a bad a tailspin as imaginable. Indiana (9-20, 3-14) have lost 11 straight games including the last eight by at least 14 points.

What to expect? Northwestern has no business losing this game. Then again the same thing could have been said for the game at Iowa City or to Penn State in Evanston. There is some buzz about the flu bug running rampant in Camp Willie and that Drew Crawford may be slowed by some injuries. The Hoosiers better hope that these things continue to plague Northwestern because their Senior Day will end up pretty depressing otherwise.

01 March 2010

Big Ten Power Rankings as of March 1, 2010

The big news this week is that Robbie Hummel is out for the season with a knee injury. That's too bad as we were really starting to like this team. OSU will need to carry the Big Ten banner in the tournament.

1. Ohio State (13-4)
Last week OSU won at Penn State but defeated Michigan at home. Plus one.

2. Michigan State (12-4)
MSU won at Purdue. Plus one.
3. Wisconsin (11-5)
UW crushed Indiana on the road. Plus one.
4. Purdue (12-4)
PU won at Minnesota but lost to Michigan State at home. The loss of Robbie Hummel is devastating. Minus three.

5. Illinois (10-6)
Last week UI won at Michigan but lost to Minnesota at home. No change.

6. Minnesota (8-8)
Last week UM lost to Purdue at home but won at Illinois. No change.
7. Northwestern (7-10)
Last week NU won a home game against Iowa and lost at Penn State. No change.

8. Michigan (6-10)
Last week UM lost to Illinois at home and at Ohio State. No change.
9. Penn State (3-13)
Last week PSU lost to Ohio State and defeated Northwestern at home. The Nittany Lions are playing better than the NIT NONSTARTERS RIGHT NOW. Plus two.
10. Iowa (4-12)
Last week Iowa lost at Northwestern and defeated Indiana at home. Minus one.
11. Indiana (3-13)
Last week IU lost to Wisconsin at home and at Iowa. The Hoosiers free fall continues -- now at ten games including seven straight losses by 14+ points. Minus one.

Recap: Penn State 79 Northwestern 60

The same team that traveled to Iowa City showed up in State College. Once again Northwestern (18-11, 7-10 Big Ten) was porous on defense and only Juice Thompson showed up on offense.

Penn State shot a blistering 68 percent in the first half to take a dominating 49-35 halftime lead. The second half started out with some increased Northwestern intensity on defense which quickly dissipated with some empty offensive possessions. From there the rout was on.

Northwestern hopes to salvage what remains of this season with two victories this week against lowly Chicago State and at Indiana. Lose either of these games and an invite to the NIT may be in jeopardy.

27 February 2010

Countdown to Northwestern at Penn State

Northwestern travels to The Bryce to take on Penn State at 11:00AM Central on Sunday February 28. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network and radio coverage is on WGN 720-AM wgnradio.com.

The game is being built up as a potentially historic game for NU. This is because Northwestern (18-10, 7-9 Big Ten) is poised to break its all-time record for number of victories in a season. We're not particularly enthused by this potential record setting event because it is a function of having more games played these days as well as a reminder of NU's historical futility. We will be perfectly fine being reminded about this futility in the context of making the NCAAs for the first time, but reaching 19 or even 20 wins is not the same in our book.

Penn State (10-17, 2-13) put the nail in NU's NCAAs coffin for this season when the Nittany Lions visited the Welsh recently and soundly defeated NU for their first Big Ten victory. Penn State followed up that game with an encore victory performance at the Crisler for impressive back-to-back victories on the road. NU hopes to avenge the loss to Penn State just as they did the Iowa loss earlier this week. It won't be easy as Penn State has NU's number.

What to expect? We think a light has gone off with this team in the form of balanced scoring inside and out. This be the difference in this game as NU wins a tough game on the road.

Recap: Northwestern 74 Iowa 57

Now this is what a game against Iowa should look like. NU had a 20 point lead by halftime and coasted from there. We said we hoped that NU would come out breathing fire and smoke and empty the bench by the end of the game. Mission Accomplished!

John Shurna poured in 29 points while displaying his wide array of shots. Jeremy Nash excelled with 15 points in his final home Big Ten game, and Juice Thompson and Luka Mirkovic each chipped in a dozen.

25 February 2010

Countdown to Iowa at Northwestern

Iowa travels to The Welsh to take on Northwestern at 6:00PM Central on Thursday February 25. The game will be televised on ESPN and radio coverage is on WGN-AM 720 wgnradio.com.

ESPN is televising this game to kill the least amount of airtime while fulfilling its contractual obligations to televise each Big Ten team at least once per season. A nationwide audience has the chance to see Iowa (9-18, 3-11 Big Ten) really embarrass Northwestern (17-10, 6-9) and sweep the season series. For a recap of the previous game at the Carver here are the gory details.

What to expect? We'd like to say NU will come out breathing fire and smoke the Squawkeyes. The spread is nine points so the bookies think this should be a comfortable NU win. We will be disappointed if NU doesn't walk over these chumps and empty the bench by the end of this game

23 February 2010

Recap: Wisconsin 70 Northwestern 63

Northwestern gave it the old college try at the Kohl and came up empty. It was a valiant second half effort in which Northwestern (17-10, Big Ten 6-9) closed a 14 point halftime gap to a one point deficit at the 2 minute mark. But Northwestern would get no closer down the stretch.

Northwestern was given a golden opportunity when John Leuer missed 3 of 4 free throws while the outcome was still in doubt. But John Shurna missed an awkward looking shot from eight feet at the one minute mark that would have tied the game. Then in the most critical possession with 30 seconds down to go and trailing by three the Northwestern offense sputtered. Not only did NU allow valuable seconds to melt away but also NU never got off a good shot. The best NU could manufacture was a Juice Thompson layup attempt that was blocked by Jon Leuer into the hands of Jason Bohannon with just 11 seconds to play. Game. Set. Match.

NU fans have whined about the officiating down the stretch. This leaves us cold. Sure the call against Shurna with 30 seconds to play was bogus and inconsistent with how the game was reffed the rest of the game. But you know what? That's the reality of life on the road. Deal with it.

NU had its chances to overcome the adversity but didn't get it done. Shurna, who had played marvelously the entire game (26 points, 4 boards), didn't execute when he couldn't tie the game with a minute to play. And the offensive execution on the most critical possession in the last half minute was poor.

Perhaps those who question whether Carmody should have called a timeout for that last possession are correct. The other school of thought is to let the teams play so that the opponents can't get their defense/strategy set during the timeout. NU's offense had executed well all game long so we have no problem with opting out of a timeout there.

Big Ten Power Rankings as of Feb 23 2010

The Big Ten is coming into focus with only three or four more conference games to play...

1. Purdue (11-3)
PU won at Ohio State and defeated Illinois at home. An impressive week and now a nine game winning streak. No change.
2. Ohio State (11-4)
Last week OSU lost to Purdue at home but won at Illinois. No change.

3. Michigan State (11-4)
MSU won at Indiana and lost at home to Ohio State. Plus one because...
4. Wisconsin (10-5)
UW lost at Minnesota and narrowly defeated Northwestern at home. That's some lost mojo. Minus one.

5. Illinois (9-5)
Last week UI lost at Purdue. No change.

6. Minnesota (7-7)
Last week UM swept home games against Wisconsin and Indiana. Plus one.
7. Northwestern (6-9)
Last week NU lost a home game to Penn State and lost at Wisconsin. Minus one.
8. Michigan (6-8)
Last week UM won in OT at Iowa and lost to Penn State at home. No change.

9. Iowa (3-11)
Last week Iowa lost in OT to Michigan at home. Plus one because...
10. Indiana (3-11)
Last week IU lost to Michigan State at home and at Minnesota. Hoosiers are in a eight game free fall including five straight losses by 14+ points. Minus one.
11. Penn State (2-12)
Last week PSU broke through for two road victories at Northwestern and at Michigan to notch their first two victories of the year. Could they pass the Hoosiers by this time next week? No change.

21 February 2010

Countdown to Northwestern at Wisconsin

A thousand apologies for this late preview. As they say it's better late than never. For those of you who miss it prior to the game this may be a good time for you to google RSS and learn the virtues of that service. RSS really makes life much easier on the interwebs.

Northwestern (17-9, 6-8 Big Ten) travels to the Kohl to take on big bad Wisconsin (19-7, 9-5) at 1PM Central on Sunday February 21. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network and radio coverage is on WGN 720-AM and wgnradio.com.

Wisconsin leads the series 108-61 which includes a 60-50 Wisconsin victory earlier this year at the Welsh. For our recap of that game see this link.

John Leuer is back in the Wisconsin lineup for this game. This will be his second game since returning from injury. He had a lackluster performance in his first game back -- a surprisingly easy victory for Minnesota at the Barn.

NU's best hope is to keep this game in the 50s and hope to sneak out a win at the end. This is not likely. NU has lost by average score of 68-49 at the Kohl during the Carmody Era. The closest game during this period was a 12 point loss during the 2007-08 season. The worst loss was last year's 74-45 beat down. Ruh Roh Raggy!

The good news is that NU has shown the ability to bounce back from tough losses. And the home loss to Penn State most certainly falls into the tough loss category. The bad news is that Wisconsin also had a tough loss prior to this game. Neither team has the motivational edge.

There are a number of Wildcat faithful who think NU could pull off the epic upset including our friends over at Welsh-Ryan Ramblings. We at Carmody Court tend to see the glass as half-full, but we can't drink this kool-ade. We'll hope for the best but expect history to repeat itself in the form of a Wisconsin blowout.

20 February 2010

Shurna in the spotlight

We'll leave the gruesome business of picking apart the carcass of NU's loss to PSU to those who are more inclined to such things. Rather we would like to divert your attention to this nice article on John Shurna in the Trib.


John Shurna: The Smilin' Assassin

17 February 2010

All Big Ten

During last night's Indiana-Michigan State game ESPN ran a poll for Big Ten MVP. The choices were Kalin Lucas, Evan Turner, and E'Twaun Moore. Kalin Lucas was a runaway favorite. Granted this poll was biased as there was a disproportionate amount of MSU fans watching the game. But still. Lucas for Big Ten MVP? No way!

The poll did get us to pondering whom we would place on our All Big Ten teams. Here we go.

Big Ten Player of the Year: Evan Turner
Big Ten Freshman of the Year: Drew Crawford
Big Ten Coach of the Year: Bo Ryan

First Team
G Talor Battle (Jr)
G E'Twaun Moore (Jr)
F Evan Turner (Jr)
F John Shurna (So)
C DeShawn Sims (Sr)

Second Team
G Kalin Lucas (Jr)
G Demetri McCamey (Jr)
G Manny Harris (Jr)
F Robbie Hummel (Jr)
C JaJuan Johnson (Jr)

Third Team
G Verdell Jones III (So)
G Trevon Hughes (Sr)
G Blake Hoffarber (Jr)
F Damian Johnson (Sr)
F Draymond Green (So)

Honorable Mention
William Buford (So), Lawrence Westbrook (Sr), Jason Bohannon (Sr), Mike Tisdale (Jr), Blake Hoffarber (Sr), Jon Diebler (Jr), Juice Thompson (So), Drew Crawford (Fr), David Lighty (Jr).

There are few things to note about these selections.

1. Selections were based upon in-conference performance primarily.
2. We tried to pick teams by position with the following caveat...
3. We picked the best player if there was significant difference between him and the next best player at a position.
4. These picks are merit based. They do not reflect whom we think the media and/or coaches will ultimately select.

This list makes it clear the Big Ten is guard dominated and junior dominated. That is no big revelation. If the most of the junior class sticks around then the Big Ten is going to be as good as it has been in recent memory next year.

16 February 2010

Countdown to Penn State at Northwestern

Penn State travels to The Welsh to take on Northwestern at 7:30PM Central on Wednesday February 17. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network and radio coverage is on wgnradio.com.

Penn State (8-16, 0-12 Big Ten)leads the series 22-11 and has been a real thorn in Northwestern's (17-8, 6-7) side. Despite having similar squads to NU, at least record wise, PSU has won two straight and six of the last seven games.

Penn State is not as bad as its record suggests. They've come up about two or three minutes short in a number of losses. The Nittany Lions are led by likely first team all big ten junior guard Talor Battle. Battle may be a novice when it comes to twitter, but he knows how to chuck it and take it to the hoop.

What to expect? Northwestern very much needs to win this game as its at-large NCAA tourney berth hopes will not survive a home loss to the conference doormat. Penn State will be motivated to win this game as they are tired of seeing that conference record goose egg. However they are probably pointing to the rematch in Happy Valley as their most likely game to grab a win in conference. NU should win this game handily.

15 February 2010

Big Ten Power Rankings as of Feb 15, 2010

1. Purdue (9-3)
PU won at Michigan State and defeated Iowa at home. A seven game winning streak with a win at EL. Plus one.
2. Ohio State (10-3)
Last week OSU won at Indiana and at Illinois. The Buckeyes have now won nine straight in conference. Wow! Plus two.
3. Wisconsin (9-4)
UW split two home games. The Badgers lost a stunner to Illinois and took out their frustrations on hapless Indiana. They drop two spots behind the two hottest teams in the Big Ten.
4. Michigan State (10-3)
MSU lost a home game to Purdue and won at Penn State. They drop one because OSU is en fuego.
5. Illinois (9-4)
Last week UI won at Wisconsin and lost to Ohio State at home. A pretty impressive split that is making us eat our words. Plus one.
6. Northwestern (6-7)
NU was embarrassed at Iowa and won a thriller at home against Minnesota. Minus one.
7. Minnesota (5-7)
Last week UM lost at home to Michigan and at Northwestern. They are on downward watch.
8. Michigan (5-7)
NU won at Minnesota. They could go up a notch next week.
9. Indiana (3-9)
Last week IU lost to Ohio State at home and at Wisconsin. That's some tough sledding. No change.
10. Iowa (3-10)
Last week Iowa defeated Northwestern at home and lost at Purdue. Is it possible they will overtake the Hoosiers? Not yet anyway. No change.
11. Penn State (0-12)
Last week PSU lost to Michigan State at home. No change.

Recap: Northwestern 77 Minnesota 74 OT

It's a good thing cats have nine lives. By our count Northwestern has spent five lives against the likes of Tennessee State, Texas Pan American, Illinois, at Michigan, and now Minnesota.

In each of these games Northwestern (17-8, 6-7 Big Ten) overcame significant second half deficits to steal victory from the jaws of defeat. The Wildcats' overtime win over Minnesota (14-10, 5-7) may have been the most death defying of the bunch.

Northwestern trailed by a baker's dozen with eight minutes to go. The turnaround was sparked by a nice move in the low post by Luka Mirkovic for an easy bucket. A quick Minnesota turnover and a John Shurna bomb, his fifth of six on the afternoon, trimmed the deficit to eight points and swung momentum squarely to the white and purple.

From that point a balanced scoring effort and some solid defensive pressure, including two Luka Mirkovic steals, rallied Northwestern to a three point lead with 35 seconds to play. Blake Hoffarber, who had been held scoreless until that point, coolly knocked down a trey to knot the score at 57 at the end of regulation.

Cognizant of the importance of this game to keeping NCAA dreams alive, neither team backed down an inch during overtime. Northwestern opened up the period with a quick Shurna bucket on a beautiful up-and-under move. Minnesota responded with two free throws and a Hoffarber three, his second in a row. At that point it was difficult not to worry about a repeat of the game in Minneapolis in which Hoffarber heated up late to win the day for the Gophers.

NU remained calm and stuck to what got the Wildcats back into this game. Juice Thompson knocked down a big three to draw NU back into a tie. Then it was NU's defense which really made the difference. A Drew Crawford steal in the backcourt resulted in a Jeremy Nash layup and a two point NU lead. Then after Mirkovic got yet another steal Northwestern executed its offense beautifully which resulted in a crowd rousing layup on an assist from Juice Thompson to a cutting Drew Crawford.

Minnesota then shot itself in the foot when Ralph Sampson III missed the front end of a one-in-one with 1:14 to play. From that point it was a free throw contest. Luka Mirkovic defied the Gopher strategy to foul the worst FT shooter on the floor and knocked down four big free throws. NU wanted the ball in Juice's hands, and he made Carmody look like a genius as he knocked down all six of his FTs. Drew Crawford had the lone miss, but that came with only 0.2 seconds left on the clock with the game on ice.

John Shurna showed why he has been mentioned as a Big Ten MVP candidate with a 22 point effort including 6-13 shooting from distance as well as pulling down 5 rebounds and swatting two shots. Drew Crawford poured had 16 and 9 in addition to 3 steals, and Luka Mirkovic recorded another double-double with a 11 and 10 effort and 4 very important steals.

Jeremy Nash made his presence known on defense with 4 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 3 steals. Juice Thompson struggled most of the game but came up big with two big bombs down the stretch and going 6-6 from the charity striped in OT.

It was a great victory for Northwestern that showcased the mental tenacity of this squad. The final 13 minutes of this game are a good example of this team's potential. A harassing defense, a lethal and balance offense, and composure from the charity stripe during pressure packed moments. This team is fun to watch!

13 February 2010

Countdown to Minnesota at Northwestern

Minnesota travels to The Welsh to take on Northwestern at 4PM Central on Sunday February 14. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network and radio coverage is on WCPT and wgnradio.com.

This game is a rematch of a game at the Barn last month. Minnesota (14-9, 5-6 Big Ten) won that game in the waning moments on the strength of Blake Hoffarber's sharp shooting. Northwestern (16-8, 5-7 Big Ten) withstood several Hoffarber body blows but ultimately came up just four points short.

Both teams limp into this game with their NCAA aspirations in dire straits. In their previous games NU was embarrassed at Iowa while Minnesota also laid an egg in a 71-63 home loss to Michigan. The talking heads have varied opinions on NU's chances, but the general idea is that NU will need to go either 10-8 or 11-7 in the conference to be in the discussion. With five additional conference games including a trip to Madison year remaining on NU's schedule, NU must win this game to keep its at-large berth hopes alive.

Minnesota also has to be looking at this game as a must win. Like the Wildcats, the Gophers will need to be either 10-8 or 11-7 to be in the discussion. That means 1 or 2 more losses in conference. The Gophers have three difficult games left including a trip to Illinois and home matches against Wisconsin and Purdue, and those games alone are likely to account for those losses.

What to expect? NU played well in the first game and handled Minnesota's athleticism well. Ironically it was the lesser-athletic suburban driveway bomber who ultimately thwarted NU bid for a big road victory. The switch of venue gives us reason for optimism. That is if NU students shows up in full voice. Here's to hoping tomorrow's game has an atmosphere similar to the Illini and Purdue games.

12 February 2010

Note to Jim Phillips

It's time to start preparing to wage war on the RPI. Have your minions find articles that expose the flaws of the RPI. Then have them do some quantitative analysis that shows how the Sagarin and Pomeroy statistics are better predictors for NCAAs success. Finally, boil it all down to five salient talking points to submit to the NCAA Selection Committee.

It is our understanding that, among other criteria, the Selection Committee evaluates a school by how it fared against different tiers of opponents. The Selection Committee uses RPI to tier the opponents into Top 25, Top 50, and Top 100 buckets. Currently NU is 1-4 against Top 25 opponents, 1-5 against Top 50 opponents, and 3-7 against Top 100 opponents per the RPI. These records have been used as the primary argument for why NU stands little chance on Selection Sunday. On this point there is little to debate.

However NU's resume looks better if the Selection Committee were to also consider a team's record against opponents using the Sagarin and Pomeroy statistics. Per the Sagarin ratings NU is 1-5 against the Top 25 (and Top 50) and 7-7 against the Top 100. That doesn't look so bad. Most bubble teams will have poor records against the Top 25, and 7-7 against the Top 100 will also be in the ballpark.

The primary difference between the RPI and Sagarin is that four of NU's wins have moved into the Top 100 category per Sagarin. These wins are the road win at NC State, the neutral court win against Iowa State, and the two wins against Michigan. That's two road wins, one neutral court win, and one very solid home victory that is added to NU's resume.

The Pomeroy statistics also shine a better light on NU's resume. NU is 1-4 against the Top 25, 2-7 against the Top 50, and 7-7 against the Top 100.

The good news is that the Selection Committee does consider Sagarin and Pomeroy statistics in its deliberations. The bad news is that the RPI is the primary consideration especially when evaluating a school's performance against quality opponents. The RPI is not going away (at least for this year's selection process), but NU can help its case by lobbying for more emphasis to be placed on the Sagarin and Pomeroy statistics.

Recap: Iowa 78 Northwestern 65

Two words best describe this game: Epic fail.

The best spin we can put on this game is that Juice Thompson played well (20 points on 7-14 shooting, 4-9 from distance). John Shurna also chipped in 16 points plus 4 rebounds which was ok effort by his impressive standards.

Otherwise NU stunk up the joint. First and foremost the defense was atrocious. There is simply no defending a defensive effort that allowed Iowa to score 78 points. The Hawkeyes, the worst offensive team in the Big Ten, shot 50% from the field including 50% from distance. Inexcusable.

NU's center play was horrid. Coach Carmody tries any number of solutions to this gaping hole, but nothing worked. Not Mirkovic. Not Rowley. Not Curletti. Heck, he even tried turning the clock back two years when he tried Peljusic but to no avail.

NU also got very little from the 2 and the 3 positions. Crawford was invisible on offense and absent on defense. Ditto that for Jeremy Nash except for the fact he launched 10 shots despite the fact that he was having an off-night shooting (0-4 from distance). Alex Marcotullio probably did the best out there. His "resurgence" really isn't too surprising since Iowa's talent level is on par with some our non-conference opponents whom Alex helped to tear apart.

Iowa also seemed to get every rebound (we're exaggerating, but Iowa did win the rebounding battle 36-28) and every loose ball. To us this means Iowa was mentally more ready to play this game than Northwestern. And that is inexcusable given the little room for error NU can afford in its quest for an NCAA bid.

Was this a case of overconfidence? We think there may be something to that though that is pure conjecture on our part. Regardless of the why's and the how's the simple fact remains that NU was embarrassed in Iowa City on Wednesday night.

We hope that Carmody uses this game as a valuable lesson to this young squad. Maybe it would be a good idea to have the team watch this game before each of its remaining games against Iowa, Penn State, and Indiana. Let it serve as a reminder as to what will happen if the team doesn't bring it on any given night. That is all.

08 February 2010

Countdown to Northwestern at Iowa

Northwestern (16-7, Big Ten 5-6) travels to Iowa City to take on Iowa (8-16, 2-9) at 7:35PM Central on Wednesday February 10. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network and radio coverage is on wgnradio.com.

Iowa leads the series 107-52 though things have been more competitive of late as the two teams have split the last ten games. Last year each team defended its homecourt. Iowa is coached by Todd Lickliter who is in his third season with the Hawkeyes after adding to the impressive Butler Bulldog coaching lineage.

Preseason expectations for the Hawkeyes were about as low as they can get. There was much talk among Big Ten coaches about how tough the league was top-to-bottom. Most people just assumed there would be an asterisk next to these statements when put into print with the fine print saying, "Iowa Hawkeyes not included."

The low expectations were a symptom of the fact that Iowa had lost most of its personnel from an already unimpressive outfit in the 2008-09 season. It turns out that Lickliter has his Hawkeyes playing harder and more competitively than anyone imagined possible. That is not to say that Iowa has made some kind of miracle breakthrough this season. Their conference victories come against the other two teams generally considered as fellow bottom-tier teams, Indiana and Penn State.

Iowa resembles Northwestern teams of the not-so-distant past. The Hawkeyes have a hard time filling the hoop and like to take the air out of the ball. Therefore most of their games are low scoring (Iowa is last in the Big Ten scoring 57 PPG) and somewhat closer than one might expect given their talent deficit (they lose by 8 points on average to Big Ten foes -- not good but not so bad relative to preseason expectations). Oftentimes the Hawkeyes appear to be frustrating their more talented, more athletic opponents. The Hawkeyes have been close to getting some decent wins but have yet to get over that hump.

Sophomore Matt Gatens and Freshman Eric May are the Hawkeye iron men as both are averaging about 35 minutes per game. Sophomore Aaron Fuller joins these two as an offensive threat though none of them average more than 11 PPG in conference play. Former NU recruiting target Devan Bawinkel is now a senior and can shoot the rock from distance at a 40% clip.

What to expect? The old adage that it is difficult to win on the road rings true. The Wildcats are clearly the better team and should win this game. But Iowa may keep it interesting given 1) their style of play (notably, they lead the Big Ten in 3FG% defense), 2) the game is at The Carver, and 3) NU may be peaking ahead to its biggest game of the year on Valentine's Day against Minnesota. We expect NU to prevail, but NU fans may no longer be as bullish about the Wildcats as they are right now after two comfortable home victories.