Big 10 Basketball Preview: Northwestern Wildcats
We make our way down to the Windy City to preview Chicago’s hometown team, the Northwestern Wildcats.
2019-2020 overall record: 8-23
2019-2020 Big 10 record: 3-17
2019-2020 Big 10 Ranking:13th
2019-2020 Season Recap
Not the season that the Wildcats were hoping for last year. Most people didn’t have particularly high expectations for Northwestern last season, but I don’t think anybody expected it to be as bad as it actually was. Northwestern did end their season on a relatively high note by going out on senior night and taking down one of the best teams in the league beating Penn State by double digits, that shows a lot of heart from the Wildcats. Unfortunately though, it is not much more than a moral victory for NW. The Wildcats probably didn’t think they would be a tournament team, but they definitely didn’t think they would be looking at 3 conference wins when the dust settled in March. Sadly, this record looks better than it actually was though considering 2 of the 3 wins were against fellow Big 10 bottom feeder Nebraska.
Similar to their peer Nebraska, Northwestern has nowhere to go but up. In terms of Ken Pom ranking, the Wildcats last year ranked an abysmal 132nd in the country. One ranking that they did have in there is luck. Ken Pom defines this ranking as “Essentially, a team involved in a lot of close games should not win (or lose) all of them. Those that do will be viewed as lucky (or unlucky).” Why I bring that up is Northwestern was ranked 334th out of 353 when it comes to luck. Take that for what you will. It might be just they can’t find ways to win games. If you want a spin zone for a Northwestern optimist (essentially what you have to do when you finish 8-23), is that they played in a lot of close games and if they can flip some of those into wins, they can be a more middle of the pack team. The Wildcats do bring back their best player, forward Miller Kopp. He led the team with 13 points a game while shooting a respectable 41.2% from the field as well as 39.6% from deep. Pete Nance also returns for the Wildcats bringing back 8.5 PPG as well as 6.0 RPG. If he can make some strides, this will be a nice 1-2 punch in the front court for the Wildcats. If the Wildcats also get some more improvement from their back court, especially with guard Boo Buie (great name) getting a year of experience under his belt, Northwestern can be competitive and not be the doormat they were last year. Overall, I think the Wildcats will improve upon last year’s result, and I think they will be more competitive in the Big 10, but the rest of the league is so stacked and it’s hard to find winnable games in the schedule for a team lacking talent like Northwestern. They will be a bottom 2 team once again in the conference.
2020-2021 Projected Starting Lineup
G: Boo Buie
G: Robbie Beran
F: Miller Kopp
F: Pete Nance
C: Ryan Young
2020/2021 Projected Big 10 Ranking: 13th
2020/2021 Projected Postseason Placement – No postseason