99 in 99: #53 Northwestern Wildcats


Northwestern Basketball

For the first time in Northwestern basketball history, the team made a post-season tournament appearance for the second straight year.  Unfortunately, it was the NIT meaning that first ever NCAA Tournament berth is still evading the Wildcats.  Will this finally be the year the ‘Cats go dancing?

The Sports Bank’s 99 team college basketball preview in 99 days ranks the 72 power conference schools and top 27 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  Click here if you missed teams #54-#99.

By: David Kay

Northwestern Wildcats (T-7th, 7-11 in Big Ten, 20-14 overall)

Projected Depth Chart
C: Luka Mirkovic (Jr)/Davide Curletti (Sr)
F: John Shurna (Jr)/Ivan Peljusic (Sr)
F: Jeff Ryan (Sr)/Mike Capocci (Sr)
SG: Drew Crawford (So)/Jershon Cobb (Fr)/Reggie Hearn (So)/Nick Fruendt (So)
PG: Juice Thompson (Sr)/Alex Marcotullio (So)

Gone: F-Kevin Coble, SG-Jeremy Nash, C-Kyle Rowley (transfer-St. Mary’s)

2010-2011 Outlook:
Last year, it was a season-ending injury to Kevin Coble that hurt the Wildcats’ chances of making their first ever trip to the NCAA Tournament.  This year, it’s Coble’s decision to graduate early and not return for a medical redshirt season that will likely cost Northwestern an invitation to the dance.

Michael Thompson NorthwesternWith Coble sidelined, John Shurna stepped up by more than doubling his scoring and rebounding output from his freshman season.  Juice Thompson continued to evolve as a college point guard, improving his decision-making while still being a threat from the outside.  Meanwhile, Drew Crawford became the first Wildcat to earn Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors.

All three players return and figure to play a big role in what Northwestern will try to do this season.  Senior Jeff Ryan is back from a knee injury that cost him all but one game last season and should replace Jeremy Nash’s production on the wing.  Luka Mirkovic showed solid progress in his second season and will be counted on to provide an inside presence for the Wildcats while also using his ability to step out and knock down jump shots.

The ‘Cats were not a very deep team last season but return most of their key bench contributors except for stiff seven-footer Kyle Rowley who decided to transfer.  Northwestern does add talented freshman shooting guard Jershon Cobb who should see playing time from the get-go.

This team is close…very close.  If things fall into place and their Princeton-style offense causes opponents some headaches, they may finally get over the hump.  In order to do so, the ‘Cats must be a better team on the boards and not get swallowed up by the major players at the top of the Big Ten.  The hope is still alive that this will finally be the year.

Player to Watch: Drew Crawford, G/F
While Shurna and Thompson are the “stars” of the Wildcats, Crawford’s second season in Evanston could ultimately decide the fate of this team.  Crawford will need to build off a successful freshman campaign and also solidify what the backcourt will miss from the graduation of Jeremy Nash.

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/30 vs. Georgia Tech (Big Ten/ACC Challenge)

Other 99 in 99’s:
#54 UCLA
#55 Southern Mississippi
#56 St. Mary’s
#57 Texas A&M
#58 Louisville
#59 Arizona State
#60 Northern Iowa
#61 Creighton
#62 Clemson
#63 Cincinnati
#64 Texas Tech
#65 Miami, FL
#66 Charlotte
#67 UTEP
#68 Ole Miss
#69 George Mason
#70 Colorado
#71 Weber State
#72 Alabama
#73 Bradley
#74 Central Florida
#75 Wake Forest
#76 Georgia Tech
#77 USC
#78 Oklahoma State
#79 Cal
#80 Oklahoma
#81 Virginia
#82 South Carolina
#83 Indiana
#84 Stanford
#85 Oregon
#86 Penn State
#87 South Florida
#88 Arkansas
#89 Boston College
#90 LSU
#91 Providence
#92 Michigan
#93 Oregon State
#94. Nebraska
#95. Auburn
#96. DePaul
#97. Iowa State
#98. Rutgers
#99. Iowa


  1. paulmbanks says

    Crawford seemed to hit the “rookie wall” in conference season. He peaked in in the noncon somewhat. If he’s more consistent this year, he’ll be a force.

    I do worry abotu losing nash though, since he’s like the Cats Chester Frazier.
    and you saw what happened to ILL when Dr. frazier left.

    then again NU is much disciplined than UI as a program lately. NU doesn’t get a lto fo players with DUIs

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