Northwestern Basketball Regains Fight, but Maybe too Late

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Last night, Northwestern basketball showed more signs of spirit and indications of internal fire than we have seen in recent weeks. They utterly curb stomped a hapless Minnesota team from start to finish, running away with a 83-60 victory that was non-competitive from the opening tip.

The question remains though, was this the Wildcats regaining their fight, or a Gophers team that’s a disgraceful mess off the court, and obviously letting the issues surrounding the program adversely affect their performance on the court? It’s probably a combination of both.

northwestern

While Northwestern basketball has clearly lost their magic this season, they are a hallmark of stellar stability compared to Minnesota right now. NU has certainly had a come to Jesus moment or two during the past two weeks, holding a players-only meeting and receiving a strong message from Northwestern basketball coach Chris Collins.

Having started 1-3 in the B1G, which included miserable, very decisive losses at the hands of traditional league bottom feeders Nebraska and Penn State, blowing the doors off of Minnesota was exactly what the doctor prescribes (with no copay; but you must sign a waiver!).

“Tonight was a night we needed,” said Collins. “Was really pleased with the life and the passion and the excitement.”

He added that the team needed to “regain their spirit.”

chris collins

“We were just very real with each other this whole week,” said star swingman Scottie Lindsey.

“We put everything out there and talked about how we were struggling and not playing well and not playing our brand of basketball.”

Wednesday night showed promising signs of life, but is it too late already? If you take a look at the Northwestern basketball resume- RPI 101, SoS 63, Sagarin 60, Kenpom 71, they have a ton of work to do just to even earn a NIT at large berth. 

They suffered hugely embarrassing losses to Big 12 opponents Oklahoma and Texas Tech, and it’s going to take a bunch of signature wins to try and offset those eye sores.

Their best, and perhaps only, shot back to the big dance could be running the table in the B1G Tournament. Yes, star players Vic Law and Bryant McIntosh have missed a bit of time due to injury, but a fully fit, full go team would not have saved them from many of their losses this season.

scottie-lindsey

With Sanjay Lumpkin graduating, it’s the classic case of “you don’t know what you got until it’s gone.” Obviously, this Northwestern basketball team is suffering from adjusting to life under the Puff Daddy-ism “when you’re expected to win, they ain’t surprised no more.”

Also, and yes this narrative has been overkilled already I know, having to play “home” games away from home has hurt too.

In a troll move of epic proportions, Northwestern basketball arch-rival Illinois, put a program marketing billboard right by the Interstate-90 exit that accesses their temporary home arena.

For what it’s worth, NU took the one meeting between the two teams this season, which was at NU’s temporary home. The game set a Northwestern basketball home attendance record, but that needs an asterisk, as the crowd was about 3/4 Illini fans. For NU, they can still salvage this season, but it would probably take a 10-3 finish (9-4 puts you in the conversation) down the stretch in order to do so.

They would also have to take at least two of their final three opportunities for prime wins (Ohio State next Wednesday, Michigan and Michigan State in mid/late February) as part of that 10.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and the Tribune company’s blogging community Chicago Now.

Follow him on TwitterInstagramSound Cloud, LinkedIn and YouTube.

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