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.