In 2008-2009 Big Ten Basketball, the Northwestern Wildcats, who this preseason were picked by many to finish in the bottom three of the league, have been one of the leagues most surprising stories.
Granted, they are currently still tied in fourth to last, but sit at 8-9 and with a win at Ohio State on Saturday, could just as easily finish tied in fifth entering the Big Ten conference tourney.
Many are saying that Northwestern has a shot at making the NCAA tourney. In order for that to happen though, they would have to win two more games, on Saturday at Ohio State and the opening game of the Big Ten tourney. Can it happen? Quite possibly.
Whether they do or not, Northwestern fans should be excited about the team that will be their 2010 Northwestern Wildcats.
Loses will be minimal
For one, Northwestern will trot out the same team in 2009-2010 that they sent out this year with the exception of senior guard Craig Moore and his 14.3 PTS 3.2 REB and 3.8 AST per game.
Other than Moore, star forward Kevin Coble and his 15.4 PTS 4.8 REB and 2.5 AST per game will return, along with forwards Luke Mirkovic and John Shurna.
Entering will be recruit guards Alex Marcotullio out of Warren, Michigan and Drew Crawford out of Naperville, Illinois. Marcotullio is a straight up shooter, while Crawford is a swing guard with great upside and a relative of NBA ref Danny Crawford.
Lessons will be Learned
Despite being 8-9, Northwestern could just as easily have been 12-5, losing four games that came down to the final possessions. Those games were:
12.31 @ Penn State 61-57
1.15 Purdue 63-61
2.12 Illinois 60-59
2.15 Michigan 70-67 in OT
They have upset the likes of Florida State in non-conference play, Michigan State, and Purdue. Look for this team to grow from these losses in 2010.