Welcome to The Sports Bank’s third annual college basketball season preview series. Two years we looked at 99 teams in 99 days. Last year, we were slightly more aggressive and expanded to 111 teams in 111 days and will do so again as we look ahead to the 2012-2013 season.
We will rank the 75 power conference teams and top 36 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order. We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.
The streak continues… The Northwestern Wildcats missed the NCAA Tournament once again last season meaning the program has yet to put on their dancing shoes. Bill Carmody loses star John Shurna and will likely see their streak go on for another year.
Last Season: T-7th, 8-10 in B10, 19-14 overall
Predicted Finish: 10th
Projected Depth Chart
C: Nikola Cerina (Jr)/Alex Olah (Fr)/Chier Ajou (Fr)
F: Jared Swopshire (Sr)/Mike Turner (Fr)
G/F: Drew Crawford (Sr)/Kale Abrahamson (Fr)/Sanjay Lumpkin (Fr)
SG: JerShon Cobb (Jr)/Reggie Hearn (Sr)
PG: David Sobolewski (So)/Alex Marcotullio (Sr)/Tre Demps (Fr)
Gone: F-John Shurna, C-Luka Mirkovic, F/C-Davide Curletti, SG-Nick Fruendt
With Shurna gone, Drew Crawford steps into the alpha dog role for the Wildcats. He has been a great second banana the past few seasons and appears to be more than capable of shouldering the load having averaged 16.1 points per game a year ago.
Crawford will be joined in the backcourt by JerShon Cobb who was hampered by injury last season which stunted his development coming off a solid freshman campaign. His health will be a key for the Wildcats to reach their full potential this year. Reggie Hearn adds some valuable experience off the bench while freshmen small forwards Kyle Abrahamson and Sanjay Lumpkin will look to crack the rotation as well.
Perhaps the biggest development of last season was the emergence of freshman David Sobolewski. He is sort of a poor man’s Aaron Craft with his pesky presence on the defensive end and goes 100% every possession. His terrific play kept Alex Marcotullio in a reserve role but allowed Carmody the option of playing both guys in the same backcourt which will again be an option when the ‘Cats choose to use a smaller line-up. Redshirt freshman Tre Demps will once again be the odd man out in the rotation.
Likely to face the challenge of replacing Shurna in the starting line-up will be Louisville transfer Jared Swopshire. He becomes immediately eligible since he finished his undergrad and enrolls at Northwestern as a graduate student. Swopshire is no where near the offensive weapon Shurna was and instead relies on his length and athleticism to be effective. Redshirt freshman Mike Turner will try to earn minutes off the bench at power forward but it wouldn’t at all surprise me if Carmody uses a four guard look quite often with Crawford logging some minutes at the four.
TCU transfer Nikola Cerina takes over in the middle for the ultimate stiff, Luka Mirkovic. Cerina is much more skilled on the offensive end and should actually provide the Wildcats with a decent post scorer who is also capable of knocking down mid-range shots. A pair of seven-foot transfers will bring size off the bench. Alex Olah and Chier Ajou, the cousin of Bulls’ forward Luol Deng, are both still very raw on the offensive end but bring shot blocking and rebounding to the paint.
With the Big Ten being top heavy with talented teams, it is hard to imagine that Northwestern can finish with a five hundred or better mark in the conference which pretty much eliminates them from a chance at their first ever NCAA Tournament berth. The drought goes on…
Player to Watch: Drew Crawford
The 6-5 swingman has flown under the radar on a national level the past couple seasons since Shurna received most of the little national attention the Wildcats received. This is his chance to breakthrough but will Shurna’s absence on the floor allow him to shine or just draw more attention his way from opposing defenses? How he handles that challenge could be the difference maker for Northwestern.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/23 vs. TCU (South Padre Invitational)
11/24 vs. UAB/Illinois State (South Padre Invitational)
11/27 vs. Maryland (Big Ten/ACC Challenge)
12/4 at Baylor
12/8 vs. Butler
12/21 vs. Stanford
OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#74 Rutgers Scarlet Knights
#75 USC Trojans
#76 UConn Huskies
#77 Harvard Crimson
#78 Xavier Musketeers
#79 Ole Miss Rebels
#80 Clemson Tigers
#81 Oregon State Beavers
#82 Texas A&M Aggies
#83 Providence Friars
#84 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
#85 Oklahoma Sooners
#86 Lehigh Mountain Hawks
#87 Washington State Cougars
#88 Long Beach State 49ers
#89 Belmont Bruins
#90 Vanderbilt Commodores
#91 Dayton Flyers
#92 Houston Cougars
#93 UCF Knights
#94 Old Dominion Monarchs
#95 Oregon Ducks
#96 LSU Tigers
#97 South Carolina Gamecocks
#98 Seton Hall Pirates
#99 Georgia Bulldogs
#100 DePaul Blue Demons
#101 Boston College Eagles
#102 Penn State Nittany Lions
#103 Arizona State Sun Devils
#104 Virginia Tech Hokies
#105 Texas Tech Red Raiders
#106 Auburn Tigers
#107 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
#108 TCU Horned Frogs
#109 Mississippi State Bulldogs
#110 Utah Utes
#111 Nebraska Cornhuskers
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.)
You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.Follow paulmbanks