Northwestern Currently in Last Place; Chris Collins Having His Worst Season Ever

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Chris Collins is now into the final stretch of what has truly become his worst season ever in charge at Northwestern. His Wildcats, currently 14th out of 14 in the Big Ten conference, face a very real danger of finishing dead last in the league.

At this point, somehow finding a way to get up to 10th place, and thus being able to avoid having to play on the first night of the Big Ten Tournament, would be considered a major victory. Collins has won at least six games and finished 10th or higher in league play in all five of his previous seasons on the job. Northwestern, currently on an eight game losing streak will need to win three of their last four in order to reach six league wins this season.

They will need to win all four in order to avoid reaching a new low for conference winning percentage in the Chris Collins era (seven wins is needed due to the schedule expansion from 18 to 20 games).

Remember last season- when so many, if not most were quick to blame Northwestern’s having to play all their home games out at Allstate Arena for their struggles?

Well, it’s a Northwestern basketball narrative that is truly dead, buried and laying far below any level of possible excavation now.

So what’s the real issue? Mostly, it’s an offense that is among the worst in the entire nation, scoring 56 points or less in six of their last eight.

chris collins northwestern

Defensively, NU has been great, as they’re fifth in the Big Ten in scoring defense, and top 30 nationally. The Wildcats have held high major conference opponents below their points per game average on 17 occasions this season.

However, the opposite end of the floor has been a disaster.

“Really guys, we’ve been terrific defensively all year,” Chris Collins said in postgame.

“Our defensive numbers have been fantastic. Our struggles have been on the offensive end. We’ve been scoring in the high 40s and low 50s. You’re not going to win in the Big Ten scoring 48 or 52 points.”

See the tweet below (although it’s worth noting they put 32 up on Wisconsin in the first 20 minutes tonight).

The historical season that was 2016-17 has proven to not be the program trajectory changing campaign that many thought it would be.

All that aside, as we wrote previously, the seat of Chris Collins remains cool. “Cooler than a polar bear’s toe nails,” as Outkast would say. As rough as this year, and last year have been, just take a look at Collins’ contract and you’ll realize that he’s not going anywhere any time soon.

Which is easy for all of us to speculate, but in the end, only one opinion on this topic matters, and that opinion belongs to Athletic Director Jim Phillips.

So what’s ahead for Chris Collins and Northwestern?

northwestern basketball

Between now and the conference tournament, it’s a race to avoid the bottom against Penn State, and now Indiana too.

NU has three of their last four at home, and only one is against a legitimately good team. They welcome Minnesota in on Thursday night, travel to Illinois on March 3, then host Ohio State on March 6, followed by #15 Purdue on Senior Day.

Penn State, if there is anyone reading this who actually cares about that program, has a tougher run in.

They’ll face two more ranked teams, #24 Maryland on Wednesday, followed by a visit to #22 Wisconsin on March 2. Then it gets much easier with a trip to Rutgers on March 6, which preludes a hosting of Illinois on March 10.

Indiana, this year’s biggest disappointment by far, has the toughest final stretch of the three Big Ten bottom feeders. They host #22 Wisconsin (February 26) and #10 Michigan State (March 2), before heading on the road to take on Illinois March 7, then finishing at home versus Rutgers on March 10.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, regularly appears as a guest pundit on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation

He also contributes sociopolitical essays to Chicago NowFollow him on Twitter and Instagram. The content of his cat’s Instagram account is unquestionably superior to his.

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