21 January 2011

Northwestern on track for NCAAs

NU's record is (13-5, 3-4) in the wake of last night's decimation of outmatched SIU-Edwardsville. We have said all along that 20 wins is the magic number for NU's NCAAs dreams. In the mailbag critics have argued this is an oversimplification. While there is no doubt that we have simplified the picture to better see the forest through the trees, this does not mean that we are off-base in our thinking.

The way we figure it a 9-9 record in the #1/#2 conference plus one Big Ten Tourney win implied by the 20 win threshold would be enough to make the NCAAs regardless of the particulars of how NU got there. The discussion will merit more fine tuning as season end nears and the outlook comes more into focus, but for now it will have to do.

Of note kenpom now shows that NU's expected regular season performance has improved to (19-10, 9-9). There are no guarantees that this will come to fruition, but it does show that NU is on track for its first ever NCAAs berth at the moment under the reasonable assumption that NU will win what is sure to be a favorable match-up against a lower-tier team in the first round of the Big Ten tourney.

A win against Wisconsin at the Welsh on Saturday would certainly help NU's causes. kenpom has NU's chances at 44% with an expected score of 65-66. The game is there for the taking, and NU has had success in the past against the Badgers at the Welsh. Make it so.

Magic number: 7