11 February 2015

The wheels have come off

We thought that the Purdue game that was over by the 15:00 mark of the second half was demoralizing.  Little did we know that the fate of the next two games would be decided in the first half.

OK technically the Wisconsin game was effectively decided on paper at tip-off with NU having a scant 3% chance of winning, but any doubt was removed by the 15:00 mark of the first half when the Badgers jumped out to a 13-2 lead.  By the 12:00 mark the formidable Badgers had forged as 23-6 lead at which point the Badgers and even their faithful appeared to lose interest in its over-matched prey.

On paper the MSU game at The Welsh was supposed to be more competitive with NU given a 30%+ chance at victory.  Not so much.  Over the final 10 minutes of the first half Sparty went on a 22-1 run to lead 38-14 at halftime.  You have to hand it to Sparty: they didn't lose interest until their lead had ballooned to a laughable 56-21 by the 12:00 mark of the second half.  A combination of a NCAA resume in need of padding and a road game must have done the trick.


It comes as no surprise that the MSU debacle was the season's nadir (to date).  The Wisconsin game turned out to be a surprisingly OK defensive effort, but that had as much to do with the Badgers not caring enough to figure out the NU 2-3 zone unless the lead dwindled close to single digits.

In all NU's three worst efforts of the B1G season have come in their last four games with the Wisconsin game requiring an asterisk for lack of competitiveness.  Even more troubling is that these efforts are growing worse as time passes.  We suspect this team will rally to some degree and put the wheels back on this train given the inherent competitiveness embodied by most any athlete or coach at this level.  But to say the middle part of this B1G season has been a letdown would be a gross understatement even with our already low expectations going into part of the schedule.


The last two games have left a mark on the GAMBLE Report.  The team as a whole is down 12 rungs, with the offense giving back 22 rungs of its season-long progress.  The defense continued to its season-long regression with another 6 rungs of slippage.  Once again this 2015 season looks quite similar to the 2003 season (B1G record 3-13, Overall 155, AdjO 118, AdjD 200).  Both teams struggled within a fifth-ranked B1G although we never had to endure a 10 game losing streak in the 2003 season.

NU B1G Win Projections

NU is now most likely to win three games.  Welp.  At this point eyes are clearly set toward next season and beyond.  The silver lining is that the losses from this team are not huge given Cobb's injury-hindered season.  There is reason to hope that Olah and the other upper classmen improve this offseason, the oft-repeated hope by CCC and others that the freshmen stand to improve markedly with a year in the weight room and a year of college ball under their belts, and the incoming freshmen will fill in gaps in the lineup.  But at the end of the day all we have to go on is hope.  SOS