#72 Northwestern Wildcats: College Basketball 111 in 111

northwestern dance team

Welcome to The Sports Bank’s third annual college basketball season preview series.  Two years we looked at 99 teams in 99 days.  Last year, we were slightly more aggressive and expanded to 111 teams in 111 days and will do so again as we look ahead to the 2012-2013 season.

We will rank the 75 power conference teams and top 36 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

The streak continues… The Northwestern Wildcats missed the NCAA Tournament once again last season meaning the program has yet to put on their dancing shoes.  Bill Carmody loses star John Shurna and will likely see their streak go on for another year.

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#54 Northwestern Wildcats: College Basketball 111 in 111

northwestern mascot

Welcome to The Sports Bank’s second annual college basketball season preview series.  Last year we looked at 99 teams in 99 days.  This year, we are being slightly more aggressive and expanding to 111 teams in 111 days.  We will rank the 74 power conference teams and top 37 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

The Northwestern Wildcats have the dancing ability of Elaine from Seinfeld.  The main difference between the two; at least Elaine has actually danced before.  Northwestern has still never played in the NCAA Tournament although they have flirted with being a bubble team the past three seasons.  That should once again be the case in 2011-2012.

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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
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Illinois-Northwestern: Battle to get off the Bubble

By Paul M. Banks and Paul Schmidt
Photo Credit: Illinois Loyalty.com

Michigan State’s Tom Izzo Predicts Northwestern in Tourney!

NorthwesternTom_Izzo_at_Midnight_madness

By Paul M. Banks

Legendary Michigan State Head Coach Tom Izzo went out on a limb and told the media that this is the year Northwestern qualifies for their first NCAA Tournament in school history. In this video, he explains why he thinks the Wildcats will make their first NCAA Tournament this year. He also gives detailed analysis of the steps the program took last year, and where they are going.

Bill Carmody Comments on the Cats Upcoming Season

Ohio State Northwestern Basketball

By Paul M. Banks

Bill Carmody may not have gotten his Northwestern Wildcats their first NCAA tourney bid last year, but he did accomplish a few things that hadn’t been done before. The Cats set a new school record for home wins with 13, and they finished just one victory shy of the school record for wins in a season. Carmody himself is now 2nd in program history for coaching victories.

This year, they’ll have more games scheduled, and even more games, as their lone road non-conference game is at N.C. State, the ACC’s likely bottom-feeder. They’ll have a school record 19 home games this season, so this could be the year the tourney drought ends. Here are some of Bill’s more notable things that he’s said to the press about the year ahead

This year’s outlook…

“We had a decent year last year and we’re all pretty enthused about some of our wins and heartbroken with some of our losses, but I think our guys are pretty confident that they can play with just about anybody. I think the confidence level is right where it should be, not crazy, but just right where it should be. They’re working hard in practice and that’s good.”

The main two offensive weapons on this team will be the one and two scorers in last night’s 78-49 exhibition win over Robert Morris University-  Kevin Coble and John Shurna…

“You have (Kevin) Coble up front who has led us in scoring and rebounding the last three years. He got stronger. Those of you who have been around a while know that when he was a freshman and he came here and he wasn’t really a three-point shooter. He didn’t shoot long shots. He was a scorer, but he’s moved it out further and further. Each year he’s gotten better and now he shoots two-and-a-half steps past that three-point line pretty consistently. He’s getting to the hole, getting to the rim, not getting knocked down as often. Still getting knocked down; he went down three times today on his drives, but he’s definitely stronger and heavier and that’s good.”NUCOURTSIDE

“Shurna had a very good summer. He made the Under-19 USA team where he played for about two weeks down in Colorado Springs, made the team, and went to Sydney, Australia, for three or four days then to New Zealand and he was a significant part of that gold-medal winning squad. So he’s confident.”

I would agree. This year Shurna seems more sure of himself both on the court and when he takes the podium to speak with the media this year. Last season, as he was getting used to speaking with the media, he often had a Paulie Bleeker from “Juno” like sheepishness. This fall, he’s got a much more commanding presence.

Defense is often overlooked on all levels of basketball, but stopping people consistently will be critical to this team’s success, and they have a really good, and very underrated defender in swingman Jeremy Nash…

“We haven’t played that much man-to-man, but when you play match-up you have to keep the guy in front of you a little bit. I’d say Nash is pretty good, not just because he steals balls but because, when he wants, he can keep his body in front. Coble is a very good low post defender. Even though he’s a skinny guy, he’s long and he runs around guys. Once they get it, it might be troublesome sometimes but he keeps balls away from guys so he doesn’t have to play defense, which is okay. I think that Kyle (Rowley) and Luka (Mirkovic) will be pretty good defenders. They’ll be pretty good defenders as they move along.”

On scheduling, scheduling teams that could help RPI and if scheduling differently would have helped them make the tournament…

“I don’t think that it matters. I think we had a pretty tough out of conference schedule. You play 30 games and 19 or 20 of them — 19 are against — if you just play one game in the Big Ten tournament against conference foes and then you have the Big Ten-ACC challenge, and we had DePaul last year and Stanford. We had some pretty decent teams in there, and Florida State in the challenge.NUCOURTUDE2

I think we lost a couple of games that we sort of gave away and that was the difference. But every program is at a different stage. So you’re trying to balance that out wins and tough schedule and RPI and all that kind of stuff. But I think that last year we hit it just about right. And I think if we held on to a couple of leads, I think we would have gotten into the tournament last year.

Tom Izzo said this is the year they make the tournament. Others are jumping on the purple bandwagon. His response to the idea of the pressure being on him.

“Yeah, I don’t think it’s that much pressure. If you have some good players, which I think we do, we look forward to it. That’s why you’re here. There’s 330 Division I teams and that’s everyone’s goal right now to get in the NCAA. And we’re just really looking forward to it. It’s going to be a tough year in the conference. CARMODYPROFILE

I think we have probably one of our better teams coming up. But just looking around from top to bottom that the league is very strong and so it’s going to be difficult. But I don’t see it’s really pressure. I think the guys sort of embrace that.”

Where Drew Crawford, a two guard who choose NU over Wake Forest and Oklahoma State, fits in…

“Drew Crawford is a true freshman from Naperville. We lost Moore who is a long-range shooter. Drew makes shots, but he’s not the kind of shooter that Craig is. But I think I’m going to throw him in there because he’s a pretty athletic kid. He can score — makes a jump shot. Gets to the basket a little bit. Gets a few rebounds, couple blocked shots.”

2009-2010 Big Ten Basketball Preview: Part 1 of 4

Tom Crean

By: David Kay

The excitement is quickly building for the up-coming college hoops season.  This week most teams will finally strap up the kicks against real competition as exhibition play tips-off.  That is right, we are only about a week away from actual, meaningful games being played.  I’m more excited than Brett Favre after throwing his fourth touchdown at Lambeau Field this past Sunday.

While we are on the doorstep of the 2009-2010 season, we at The Sports Bank have been in college basketball mode for the past five weeks, giving you in-depth team previews and predictions from five major conferences.  Now it is time for the sixth and final preview, the “hometown conference” of TSB.net, the Big Ten.

It’s back baby.  After a couple years of being considered an inferior conference to others around the nation, the Big Ten is shaping up to be the most competitive it has been in years.  Despite being “down” last year, seven teams ended up dancing and it’s very possible that will be the case again this year, only with more competition at the top, rather than among the middle teams.  Unfortunately for the following four teams of Part 1 of our Big Ten preview, their future does not include the Field of 65.  (It should also be noted that my one year grace period of hating Tom Crean for bolting Marquette for Indiana is officially over.)

8. Northwestern (9th in B10, 8-10 in B10, 17-14 overall, NIT)

2009-2010 Outlook:
For a program that has never made the NCAA Tournament, they are getting close.  Really close.  Close enough that Michigan State’s Tom Izzo said at Big Ten Media Day that he thinks this is the year the misery comes to an end and the Wildcats make the Big Dance.  Only one player is gone from last year’s team that qualified for the NIT.  Kevin Coble has developed into one of the best scorers in the Big Ten and this once young is starting to mature into a solid Big Ten team.

Projected Depth Chart
C: Kyle Rowley (So)/Luka Mirkovic (So)
F: Kevin Coble (Sr)/Ivan Peljusic (Jr)/Davide Curletti (So)
F: John Shurna (So)/Mike Capocci (Jr)/Drew Crawford (Fr)
SG: Jeremy Nash (Sr)/Jeff Ryan (Sr)/Reggie Hearn (Fr)
PG: Juice Thompson (Jr)/Alex Marcotullio (Fr)

Gone: SG-Craig Moore, G/F-Sterling Williams

B10 Northwestern Minnesota BasketballPlayer to Watch: Coble- Let me just say this, if Coble played at Duke everyone in the nation would be aware of his abilities.  But because he plays at Northwestern, he has continually flown under the radar on the national scene.  He is a versatile forward who can score in a variety of ways and continues to develop his all-around game.  Coble will be the driving force behind whatever success the Wildcats may encounter this season.

Illinois Penn St Basketball9. Penn State (T-4th, 10-8, 27-11, NIT)

2009-2010 Outlook:
The Nittany Lions are coming off a championship season!!!  Okay, it was only the NIT title, but that is quite the accomplishment from a team that has traditionally been the door mat of the Big Ten.  Penn State fell on the wrong side of the bubble on Selection Sunday and were the rare exception of a major conference team finishing with a winning record in conference play and not making the tourney.  All-Big Ten first team player Talor Battle returns to lead the team, but PSU will have to replace the loss of three valuable seniors.  I am not expecting a repeat performance of last year’s successful season.

Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Andruw Jones III (Jr)/Andrew Ott (Jr)
PF: Jeff Brooks (Jr)/Sasha Boronjvak (Fr)
F: David Jackson (So)/ Bill Edwards (Fr)
SG: Chris Babb (So)/Cammeron Woodyard (So)/Jermaine Marshall (Fr)
PG: Talor Battle (Jr)/Tim Frazier (Fr)

Gone: G-Stanley Pringle, F-Jamelle Cornley, SG-Danny Morrissey

Player to Watch: Battle- The conference’s leading scorer from a year ago, Battle did a little bit of everything for the Nittany Lions last season.  He played 37-plus minutes a night averaging 16.7 points, 5.3 boards, and 5.0 assists per game.  Battle also led the U.S. team in scoring at the World University Games.

indiana bball

10. Indiana (11th, 1-17, 6-25)

2009-2010 Outlook:
It cannot get much worse for the Hoosiers who had the worst season in the school’s history last season.  In his second season, Tom Crean continues to try and right the wrongs Kalvin Sampson did to the program.  Landing a crop of talented freshman was a step in the right direction to gaining back some respect for IU.  Georgetown transfer Jeremiah Rivers is eligible this season and should provide Indiana with some stability and much needed leadership.

Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Tom Pritchard (So)/Tijan Jobe (Sr)/Bawa Muniru (Fr)
F: Derek Elston (Fr)/Bobby Capobianco (Fr)
G: Devan Dumes (Sr)/ Maurice Creek (Fr)/Christian Watford (Fr)
G: Jeremiah Rivers (Jr)/ Matt Roth (So)
PG: Verdell Jones III (So)/Jordan Hulls (Fr)/Daniel Moore (So)

Gone: G/F-Nick Williams (transfer-Mississippi), G/F-Malik Story (transfer-Nevada), F-Kyle Taber

Player to Watch: Rivers- The Hoosiers are very young and despite sitting out last year, Rivers’ addition on the floor should be a major plus for Crean due to his basketball lineage (his father is Celtics’ head coach Doc Rivers.)  Last we saw him at G-Town, he was not an intimidating offensive talent, but really got after it on D’.  For a Tom Crean-coached team, that aggressive work ethic will be welcomed.  If he has become a more dangerous scorer, all the better.

11. Iowa (10th, 5-13, 15-17)

2009-2010 Outlook:
The Hawkeyes are going to be the Hoosiers of last year; only they might not be lucky enough to win a game.  Seriously, that bad.  Three expected starters chose to transfer which makes me wonder what is going on with this program.  There will be some serious growing pains this season and Todd Lickliter needs to turn things around soon or he could be on the hot seat.

Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Andrew Brommer (So)/Brennan Cougill (Fr)
F: Jarryd Cole (Jr)/Aaron Fuller (So)/Devon Archie (Jr)
G: Matt Gatens (So)/Eric May (Fr)
G: Anthony Tucker (So)/ Devan Bawinkel (Sr)
PG: Cully Payne (Fr)/John Lickliter (Fr)

Gone: SG-Jeff Peterson (transfer-Arkansas), SG-Jake Kelly (transfer-Indiana State), C-David Palmer (transfer-Northern Kentucky), F/C-Cyrus Tate, G-Jermain Davis (transfer-Minnesota State-Mankato)

Player to Watch: Payne- The only other point guard on Iowa’s roster is Lickliter’s son, John, meaning Payne will likely shoulder the ball-handling responsibility.  Having Tucker and Gatens alongside Payne in the backcourt should help ease the transition, but it is still a lot to ask a true freshman.

Iowa Transfers

The Sports Bank Big 10 Preview Continues:
Wednesday: Teams 4-7
Thursday: Teams 1-3
Friday: Big Ten Award Predictions

The Sports Bank Big 12 Previews/Power Rankings:
Teams 10-12 (Colorado, Texas Tech, Nebraska)
Teams 7-9 (Missouri, Baylor, Iowa State)
Teams 4-6 (Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M)
Teams 1-3 (Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma)

The Sports Bank ACC Previews/Power Rankings:
Teams 10-12 (Virginia Tech, Virginia, N.C. State)
Teams 7-9 (Wake Forest, Miami FL, Boston College)
Teams 4-6 (Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech)
Teams 1-3 (UNC, Duke, Maryland)

The Sports Bank SEC Previews/Power Rankings:
SEC East Teams 4-6 (Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Georgia)
SEC East Teams 1-3 (Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida)
SEC West Teams 4-6 (Arkansas, Auburn, LSU)
SEC West Teams 1-3 (Mississippi State, Mississippi, Alabama)

The Sports Bank Pac-10 Preview/Power Rankings:
Teams 8-10 (Washingon State, Arizona State, Stanford)
Teams 5-7 (Arizona, USC, Oregon)
Teams 1-4 (Oregon State, UCLA, Washington, Cal)

The Sports Bank Big East Previews/Power Rankings

Teams 13-16 (Rutgers, South Florida, Providence, DePaul)
Teams 9-12 (Notre Dame, Pitt, Marquette, St. John’s)
Teams 5-8 (Syracuse, Louisville, Cincinnati, Seton Hall)
Teams 1-4 (Villanova, West Virginia, UConn, Georgetown)
Post-Season Award Predictions

For all the latest college basketball info, you can follow David Kay on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB