26 January 2010

On Northwestern's Current Chances of Making the NCAAs

To be sure tonight's loss at Minnesota puts a dent in Northwestern's NCAAs aspirations. But the Wildcats are still in position to make the Big Dance if they manage to take care of business for the remainder of the season.

Northwestern has eleven remaining games on its regular season schedule. A Northwetern victory in two of these games, roadies at MSU and Wisconsin, would be a real boon to NU's tournament resume. Neither win seems likely. Despite Wisconsin's recent struggles at home Northwestern has struggled immensely at the Kohl. And you can forget about a win at East Lansing as Sparty will be out for revenge after last year's stunning Northwestern victory at Breslin.

Each of NU's other nine games is winnable. If NU were to sweep these games, a very big if, then NU would finish the season at (23-9, 11-7). You can safely get out your dancing shoes if that were to happen.

More than likely NU will lose at least one of its winnable games which would put NU on the bubble come Selection Sunday. Two losses would get Northwestern in the conversation but would likely require two Northwestern wins at the Big Ten Tourney to light the CBS camera at the Nicolet Center on Selection Sunday.

In sum after tonight's loss the NCAAs are still in sight and NU has a very slim margin of error. In our estimation NU can afford to lose three more regular season conference games. The only game on the schedule that looks like a "must win" at this point is the home rematch against the Gophers who will likely be scratching it out with NU for a tourney berth.