Chicago College Basketball published a Northwestern season preview today. As usual it is well-written and I encourage you to check it out here. What’s really amazing as I look at the various season previews on the ‘Cats is virtually everybody expects NU to make some sort of postseason tournament whether it is the NCAA or NIT. The only other time I can remember NU getting so much positive press going into a year was 2004-05 when Mike Thompson was transferring in from Duke. Obviously that year didn’t end very positively for NU, but the difference is this year’s positive predictions are based on evidence of success last season. Not the outside hope that a guy can change a team because Coach K recruited him and then sat him on the bench so much he transferred.
The Wildcats will play their first exhibition game in a little over a week. For those who won’t be in Evanston (and I won’t that day) the game is available on bigtennetwork.com for $2.99. In fact, a number of NU games will be webcast on bigtennetwork.com for $2.99. Obviously, that isn’t a huge price, but it’s a lot more than the free cost for past webcasts. The Big Ten Network says the cost is due to the fact they have heavily invested in webstreaming technology. I hope this means that the games will look pretty much like a television broadcast, but on the computer. I really don’t want to pay for a traditional webcast.
I’ve been thinking about how close NU really was to the NCAA tournament last season and I think it’s safe to say they were literarily 4 minutes away. Between the epic blown leads to Illinois and Purdue and the short held lead with just about 4 minutes to go at Ohio State it really seems NU could have been in the NCAA tournament with just four more good minutes of basketball. Can NU make up those four minutes this year?
On the football side of things it seems NU might be without Sherrick McManis this weekend. With Brendan Smith already out and Brad Phillips injured and not 100%, NU’s only healthy secondary starter is sophomore slumping Jordan Mabin. This needs to be the week Mabin has a Craig Moore versus Miami type performance. That’s a performance where despite having a horrid sophomore season, he looks like the all-Big Ten player he will be and helps NU win the game. I’ll go out on a limb now and say if Mabin makes a pick NU wins the game.
At least NU will have its latest walk-on all-star Ricky Weina to fill in for McManis. Weina played Indiana’s two top receivers very well last week and I really don’t think PSU’s guys are that much better. The difference is Darryl Clark can probably make tougher throws than Ben Chappell.
It’s been a long time since NU had a big offensive game against a good team. Maybe this will be that week. It could be if Scott Concannon actually emerges as a tailback and Mike Kafka remembers to use his feet.
Finally, Lake the Posts polling NU fans on the best NU football comeback ever. I’d love to see video of “The Comeback” against Illinois. I’ve got the poster, but as I was eight at the time I don’t really recall the game. Still, I think 20 points down in the 4th quarter against an in-state rival is pretty spectacular. If somebody has video of that they need to post it on youtube. Come on NU Athletic Depart, the clip of Lee Gissendanner catching the winning TD from Len Williams is in the NU football history video. That means a tape of the game most at least exist in the football office achieves. I’d give honorable mention to the 2000 Minnesota game due to all the forth downs including the 4th and 20 pass from Kustok to Patrick.
The best basketball comeback is, of course, Michael Jenkins finishing off the Hawkeyes with the buzzer beater after Vedran Vukusic sent the game into overtime all by himself.