Despite Awful Season and Recruiting Misses, Chris Collins Seat at Northwestern Very Cool

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chris collins

The “program momentum,” if you believe such things actually exist in college basketball, is long gone now at Northwestern. Yes, they made their first ever NCAA Tournament two years ago, and achieved the school’s first ever tournament win to boot, but that might as well be ancient history today. 

Today’s mood is the polar opposite of 2017 March Madness as Chris Collins now faces a very real danger of finishing dead last in the Big Ten for the first time in his career. Barring a miracle turnaround down the stretch, NU will be forced to play on the first night of the Big Ten tournament and an under. 500 overall record for fourth time in Collins’ six seasons seems very likely. In three of his five seasons at the helm, the Cats have finished 10th in the league.

We talked Chris Collins and Northwestern basketball on CLTV Sports Feed with Jarrett Payton and Andy Masur, watch the segment below:

Overall, Collins is 100-89, 39-65 in league play during his time at NU. Last year’s team entered the year with massive expectations, which Collins openly embraced, but they finished below .500 and thus, no postseason appearance. It was stunningly disappointing, given how they returned pretty much all the key guys from the side that won 24 games the previous season.

This year’s group came in with lower expectations, but they have failed to even meet that as they’re just 12-11, 3-10 in the league right now. As bad as this season has gone, next year could, theoretically be even worse. 

Or at least it would appear that way on paper given who is graduating and who is returning. Take a look at the scholarship chart below, and not the lack of depth and experience coming back in 2019-20:

It really hurts that 1. Collins missed on some of the guys he recruited and 2. has seen his roster depleted by transfers. While Collins is still by far the greatest recruiter in Northwestern basketball history, he’s whiffed at a few key positions several times and unfortunately, the transfers aren’t producing at a level as high as had been hoped.

Transfers are typically for plugging holes and that’s just not happening right now. The 2018 recruiting class is ranked 33rd nationally, (according to 247 Sports), NU’s highest-ranked recruiting class in recorded history (records go back to 1999). Unfortunately, the class just isn’t contributing enough towards getting this team some wins right now.

northwestern basketball

Rutgers is significantly improved this year, but losing to them at home, as the Wildcats did last night, is completely unacceptable for a real high major contender.

The same holds true for losing at home to the league’s worst team, Penn State, which Northwestern also has the dubious distinction of doing this year.

Then you have the catastrophic collapse at Iowa this past Sunday. Let’s take a look at another chart:

Northwestern led Iowa by 15 points with 4:30 left in the game (72-57), but then the Hawkeyes out-scored NU 23-7 to rally to record the victory. Jordan Bohannon hit the game-winning 3-pointer from 24 feet away with just 0.6 seconds left on the clock. This season, it feels like God hates Northwestern basketball, and those words were just written by an atheist.

Will there be relief next season? The incoming recruiting class is ranked fourth the Big Ten and 37th overall, but it’s hard to really inspire optimism from those numbers. Collins has recruited well, but the results just aren’t there. Take away the NCAA Tournament year and he’s 29-57 in league play all time.

Either he’s got the Tom Crean syndrome, where he can’t maximize the talent of his recruits, or the players he signing are very overrated- it has to be one of those two things.

Plenty of fans are getting fed up, but Collins is definitely not going anywhere for a long while.

First off, in 2017 he led the program to their best season since 1931, when they went 16-1 under Arthur Lonborg and were named National Champion by two different polls. The program has just four 20 win seasons in their entire history and Collins is responsible for half of those.

While Bill Carmody does not get near enough credit for what he was able to accomplish in Evanston, Collins was the guy to finally get the program over the hump which Carmody just couldn’t. Also, have you seen the Chris Collins contract? His extension runs through 2024-25 and his salary is reportedly in excess of $3 million.

You can do the math on what his potential buyout would be. Having just unveiled their $110 million and badly needed, loooooooooooooong overdue renovation of Welsh-Ryan Arena, Northwestern isn’t paying anybody not to work for a long time.

northwestern basketball

The seat of Chris Collins is, with apologies to Outkast, is “cooler than Freddie Jackson sipping a milk shake in a blizzard.”

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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