Big Ten Basketball Preview: Northwestern

Story posted November 6, 2013 in Sports, CommRadio by Chad Carey

Key Returnees

Northwestern returns senior guard Drew Crawford (13.5 PPG) who appeared in only ten games last season. The senior guard will look to stay healthy throughout the 2013-14 season.

The wildcats also return junior guard Dave Sobolewski who played the most minutes of any player on their roster last season (34 MPG).

The Wildcats also bring back Tre Demps (7.6 PPG) who will look to be more of a scoring threat this season.

Key losses

The Wildcats biggest loss by far was senior guard Reggie Hearn, who was Northwestern’s most consistent scorer last season, averaging 13.4 points per game. Northwestern also lost its leading rebounder in forward Jared Swopshire who brought down 6.7 rebounds per contest.

Offensive/ Defensive ranks

The Wildcats averaged 61 points per game last season with almost 33 percent of those points coming from beyond the three-point line. They were the 301st worst scoring offense in college basketball last year.

For the Wildcats to have any success, their scoring will have to go up. Rebounding will be another area Northwestern will have to pick up the slack in as last season the Wildcats were last in the Big Ten in rebounding at a mere 31.7 boards per game. Northwestern needs to get better in just about every category if it wants to improve upon last season’s 13-19 record.

Notable Non-Conference Games

Northwestern will have an early season test when it travels to play Stanford on November 14th.  The Wildcats have a relatively easy non-conference schedule, which should help their chances to improve on last season’s record.

The biggest test for the Wildcats during their offseason schedule will certainly be when they play at North Carolina State on December 4th as part of the Big Ten/ACC challenge.

Conference Schedule

The conference schedule again looks to be brutal for Northwestern. The key stretch for the Wildcats will come at the very beginning of the conference slate with three straight games against Wisconsin at home, Michigan and a much improved Iowa team on the road.

These first three games will be big for Northwestern, and if they can pull out at least one win from this tough stretch they can certainly help themselves out moving forward.

Coach’s Hot Seat: 1

First year head coach Chris Collins is already moving Northwestern in the right direction after landing 2014 recruit Vic Law, who may be the best recruit ever to come to Northwestern if he follows through on his commitment.

Collins is from Chicago and has deep ties within the state and city. Recruiting shouldn’t be a problem moving forward for Northwestern, he is the perfect fit and should not be worried about his job at all.

Prediction

Northwestern will probably be better than last season but still not good enough. This is a team in the rebuilding process that has the potential to be good in a few years.  

If you’re a Northwestern fan, then I wouldn’t expect to see the team make a major impact this season. This is still an average team with a lot of unproven players. I am predicting the Wildcats to finish tenth in the Big Ten this season, but I would certainly keep an eye on this Northwestern team in the future.

Chad Carey is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email cmc5913@psu.edu.