13 January 2011

Just like football

Northwestern destroyed Iowa at the Carver last night. This wasn't some war of attrition in which NU slowly constricted the life out of the Sqwawks. No, this was an early grizzly bear swat to the Iowa head that mortally wounded the Hawkeyes by midway through the first half. The outcome of the game was never in doubt from that point forth.

The game was supposed to be a toss up so the ease in which NU won was unexpected. Also unexpected has been the reaction to this impressive victory from NU fans. Several fans act as if this was the expected outcome, that NU should have blown out Iowa. Say what?

Any road game in the Big Ten is difficult, and any win no matter how ugly or close it may be is cause for celebration. People forget that Iowa recently went to toe-to-toe at the Carver against Ohio State, the heir apparent to the top ranking not just in the Big Ten but in all of college basketball. Furthermore, the betting line corroborates that this was not the expected outcome. Get real people.

Over the last couple of games NU has started to look like its former NCAA-caliber self. Sure it has helped that the games were against Indiana and Iowa, but simply put NU is doing what NCAA-caliber teams do against inferior teams. Tourney-worthy teams impose their will and win these types of games decisively.

It is of no coincidence that the turnaround has occurred simultaneously with the improvement in John Shurna's ankle. It is unfortunate that a healthy Shurna may have made a difference at Purdue and against Michigan State, but there is no use crying over spilled milk (unless it is in Jim Phillip's cover letter to NU's resume that is sent to the NCAA selection committee in mid-March). The good news is that he is on the mend, and that NU has its swagger back. This bodes well for the rest of conference play.

A win in our next game at the Breslin is not imperative, but it would put NU back into the thick of the NCAA tourney conversation. Make it so.

NU's magic number: 9