Northwestern Wildcats Basketball 2021/22 Season Preview

Northwestern basketball coach Chris Collins is now 118-132 overall and 49-98 in conference since he took over for Bill Carmody in 2013-14. Yes, Northwestern improved last season, but not all that substantially. If they do improve again this upcoming season, as some believe they will, the jump will need to be much more significant.

When Collins signed his contract extension in 2017, fresh off the program’s first and only NCAA Tournament appearance, he then became among the 15 highest paid coaches in college hoops. Since then they went 15-17 (6-12) in 2017-18, 13-19 (4-16) in 2018-19, 8-22 (3-17) in 2019-20 and 9-15 (6-13) last season.

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Pro Palestine, Abolish Police Protest Erupts at Northwestern-Iowa


While some dinosaurs still bloviate how “sports and politics don’t mix,” we all know that concept has fallen by the wayside these days. That said, you still shouldn’t run out onto the field of play to get your message out.

And if you still do anyways, well, try to make your signs readable to all of your potential audience. A pro Palestine group, reportedly Northwestern students, ran onto the field, late in the second quarter of tonight’s Northwestern home game against Iowa. The group was protesting in the name of other causes as well, including abolishing the Northwestern University police.

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Iowa Hawkeyes at Northwestern Wildcats Game Preview, Prediction

KIRK_FERENTZ iowa football

The #22 Iowa Hawkeyes visit the Northwestern Wildcats on Saturday in a match-up of the two most tenured head coaches in the Big Ten. Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz has been around the league longer than anyone, but there are certainly calls for his sacking in Iowa.

The dean of college football coaches, Ferentz, has been criticized for his methods and style, with his detractors calling upon him to modernize his offense. Ferentz has not done himself any favors, as he used the word “predictable,” to describe his own team, in his weekly press conference. Certainly, Wisconsin had no issues predicting what Iowa was going to do last week, as the Badgers absolutely dominated them on both sides of the ball.

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P.J. Fleck, Pat Fitzgerald on B1G West Being So Big Tenish this Year

Saturday sees Northwestern hosting Iowa and Minnesota hosting Illinois. All four teams are “ground-and-pound,” “three yards and a cloud of dust,” “black and blue division” run it straight up the gut type of football. As are the Wisconsin Badgers (obviously, as always), making five of the seven teams in the Big Ten West sides with a run first (and second and third for that matter) kind of mentality.

Purdue and Nebraska are the exceptions, but obviously the latter, traditionally, is synonymous with a run-heavy approach. You certainly have some teams in the Big Ten East with a run-oriented philosophy too. In short, this season, certainly so in the West division, has seen the Big Ten become as Big Tennish, or Big Tenny as ever.

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Minnesota Golden Gophers at Northwestern Wildcats Game Preview

Saturday afternoon brings a match-up of master vs. apprentice, teacher vs. student, sort of. Northwestern Coach Pat Fitzgerald didn’t tutor Minnesota head man P.J. Fleck, in any way, but he did directly inspire him.

Fleck himself has said as much, and then you have the famous story of their 2017 power lunch. Yes, Fleck, then an assistant on the staff of his alma mater, Northern Illinois, called every coach he had in his contacts folder, offering to take them out to lunch, and pick their brain about how to become a successful college football coach.

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P.J. Fleck on His True Coaching Role Model Pat Fitzgerald

pj fleck

(With Minnesota visiting Northwestern this week, we flashback to this piece from summer, 2019)

Other than himself, obviously, there is probably one specific individual that Minnesota mentor P.J. Fleck would have win the Big Ten Coach of the Year award. That would be the current reigning the B1GCOY, Fleck’s coaching mentor, Northwestern head man Pat Fitzgerald.

Back when Fleck was just starting out in his coaching career, working as an assistant at his alma mater, Northern Illinois, he called up all the coaches in his contacts and offered to take them out to lunch and talk shop. The aim was to pick their brains and get some pro tips about how to move up the ladder.

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P.J. Fleck, Pat Fitzgerald on Their Power Lunch a Decade Ago

pat fitzgerald northwestern football

(Flashback: with Minnesota visiting Northwestern this week, we re-update this piece from 2017)

This past summer, Minnesota Golden Gophers Coach P.J. Fleck opened up the early morning session of B1G Media Days. His INTENSE HIGH ENERGY style was no doubt placed in this specific slot to help supplement the caffeine for everyone. Fleck was immediately followed by Northwestern head man Pat Fitzgerald, and the juxtaposition of the two head coaches invites a recall of their famous meeting of the minds a decade ago. 

“Pat Fitzgerald, I remember 10 years ago I came here to Chicago to meet Pat and just had lunch, talked to me about what being a head coach was all about,” Fleck said in his opening statement on dais.

“I knew I wanted to be a head coach.”

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Exclusive: Chris Collins on Weirdness of Facing Miller Kopp This Year

College athletes are being granted more rights these days and that is an absolutely wonderful thing. Guys can transfer and be eligible right away now. And the custom of not transferring within the same conference? That’s also gone the way of the Triceratops.

Indiana Hoosiers forward Miller Kopp is a classic example of this trend. The 6-7 Jr (remember, everyone was granted another year of eligibility, on account of the pandemic, so it’ll be the same class as ’20-’21 for everybody) played three seasons at Northwestern, and his side visits NU Feb. 8, for their lone regular season meeting.

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Northwestern Season Not Over Yet, Rutgers Win Potentially Salvaging

When you look ahead, beyond today’s 21-7 win over Rutgers, Northwestern has two very winnable games, and probably a third potentially winnable game, remaining. (Minnesota 10/30, Purdue 11/20, @ Illinois 11/27).

They also have a triad of very likely losses in: @ Michigan 10/23, Iowa 11/6 and @ Wisconsin 11/13. So what they did today was absolutely crucial, as they entered this game 2-3 overall, 0-2 in league play. Getting that third win was massive, as now it leaves them with a puncher’s chance of making a bowl game.

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Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Northwestern Wildcats Game Preview

rutgers dance team

Saturday sees Northwestern hosting Rutgers in a match-up that isn’t the most exciting possible on paper. However, it is one with a lot of historical connotation. These are the two Big Ten programs, ovet the course of history, which have provided us the worst squads of all time in 1981 northwestern and 2019 Rutgers.

This is a topic we’ve looked at before, and hey, why not doing it again here.

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Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald Believes His White Sox Will Win ALDS

Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald hails from Orland Park, Illinois, a southwestern Chicago suburb that is hard core White Sox country. While he has donned a Cubs jersey in public (when he sang the 7th inning stretch at Wrigley Field), Fitzgerald makes no secret of his preference for black and white.

He has said in the past that he truly believes an all Chicago World Series is coming, and when it happens, he’ll be openly rooting for the Southside. His weekly Zoom presser today, ahead of the Homecoming game against Rutgers on Saturday, saw Q&A commence with White Sox playoff discussion.

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Where Northwestern Football Has Gone Wrong in 2021

Move over 2019, as it appears we might have a new “worst Northwestern football team of the Pat Fitzgerald era” in the making. No team needed a bye week more so than the Wildcats, who have tomorrow off and an extra week to prepare for Rutgers.

In losing 56-7 at Nebraska last Saturday night, the Cats surrendered the most yards (657) ever allowed in the 16 years that have comprised the Fitz era. It was also the most points allowed in 11 years (2010, when Wisconsin hung a 70 burger on NU the week after the Wrigley Field one end zone only game).

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