When fall basketball practice began, many were touting the 2010 season as the year that Northwestern would finally make the NCAA Tournament.
The excitement that built all summer was quickly muted as star player Kevin Coble and his backup Jeff Ryan were injured and lost for the season.
Against all odds and behind star sophomore John Shurna, point guard Michael "Juice" Thompson, and freshman sensation Drew Crawford, Northwestern has earned its first Top 25 ranking since the 1968-69 season.
The Wildcats won their one game last week over Central Connecticut State. They have marquee wins over North Carolina State and Notre Dame earlier this season. Their RPI currently sits at number 39 as they prepare to open the Big Ten Season at Illinois on New Year's Eve.
NU has won nine in a row after losing to Butler in the second game of the season. Their Big Ten home opener is January 2nd, against No. 11 Michigan State.
Thompson is averaging 16.7 PPG, shoots 80.4 percent from the free throw line, and is connecting on 42.5 percent of his three point attempts. Shurna averages 15.9 PPG and 7.2 RPG. Crawford has contributed 10.2 PPG and scored 35 in a game earlier this season. Jeremy Nash has taken over the senior leadership role from Coble and might be the 'Cats b most versatile player.