By Paul M. Banks
Northwestern ranked No. 25 in this week’s AP poll
EVANSTON, Ill. – For the first time since Jan. 14, 1969, Northwestern finds itself ranked in the Associated Press men’s basketball poll. Winners of nine straight contests, the Wildcats are No. 25 in this week’s rankings. NU (10-1) is off to its best start since the 1982-83 season as it heads into its Big Ten Conference opener at Illinois Wednesday evening. During the 1968-69 season, the Associated Press poll consisted of 20 ranked teams. The Wildcats came in at No. 17 on Jan. 14 after being ranked No. 19 and No. 12 the previous two weeks.
This year’s squad is currently sporting its longest winning streak in 16 years and a win Wednesday over the Illini would be the program’s best since the 1930-31 Big Ten championship squad opened with 14 consecutive victories. NU has four nonconference wins over BCS conference schools this season, tied for the most in the nation. Two of the wins came on a neutral site (Notre Dame, Iowa State), while a third was a true road game (North Carolina State).
Situations such as these call for the NU fight song and a purple celebration (see the two videos below)
Against Illinois on Wednesday night, Northwestern will look to match its best start to a season in 27 years and achieve its longest winning streak in 79 years. The Wildcats enter the contest as winners of nine straight games, a streak last achieved by the 1993-94 squad which opened the season with nine consecutive victories. NUis coming off a 74-54 home win over Central Connecticut State Dec. 22.
John Shurna (for a more in-depth profile on him click here) led the wayfor the Wildcats, scoring a career-high 29 points on 12-of-16 shooting from the field. The sophomore forward came within one point of becoming the third NU player to score at least 30 points in a game this season.
Drew Crawford added 15 points, while seven assists, four steals and no turnovers. Juice Thompson contributed 14 points.
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