I fully intended to post more thoughts between the end of the Baylor game and now, but I just never found the time. I was, as we all were, upset with the way the ‘Cats played versus Baylor, but I haven’t given up hope for the NCAA Tournament just yet. Still, I do think NU needs to improve from where they are now if they want to make the Big Dance. Especially as the rest of Big Ten looks strong with the possible exception of Penn State and Iowa.
1-6 Texas Southern shouldn’t present much of a challenge to NU and that’s probably a good thing after the loss to Baylor. The Tigers are a team that lost 62-46 to Denver in their last game so they clearly are not an offensive powerhouse. In fact, they’re pretty much the antithesis of that. They rank second to last in the NCAA in points per-game as a team with only 50.9 on average. Omar Strong is their leading scorer with 13 points per which does mean he averages more points per-game than anyone on the roster of the Stony Brook team NU almost lost to earlier this season, but I’m not worried about the Wildcats in this contest.
NU will be without guard Tre Demps who elected to have his season ending surgery and redshirt this year. He’ll most likely join fellow freshman Mike Turner as a guy who will watch all this season and then have the opportunity to step into a larger role next season. I think this is the right move as Demps was never 100% and guards Reggie Hearn and Dave Sobolewski have handled things just fine as NU’s starting backcourt. The concussion injury to JerShon Cobb has been an issue for NU, but he should return to action in the future much closer to 100% than Demps would ever have been this year. Hopefully, we’ll see Cobb on the court if not tomorrow at least at some point over this weekend stretch of three games in four days.
It really is important for NU to get off on the right foot in this game and get their confidence back. The effort against Baylor was so poor that even those who have been so beaten down by watching Northwestern basketball over the years had to leave Welsh-Ryan feeling like they’d been somehow wronged by the cosmos. Personally, I think my mistake was I confused my understanding of the concept of change. I’ve waited for years to be able to see NU get a big upset win and then say, “That’s it! That’s the win that’ll change what Northwestern basketball is.” It’s a nice dream and I’d convinced myself the Baylor game would see that dream given form. The problem is that in fact change isn’t an event it is actually a process. What we all need to believe as NU fans is that the process of change for Northwestern basketball is ongoing. It’s hard to believe when watching a game like NU played versus Baylor that such an event could in anyway be part of that process, but in fact it can be. In the end that process has to take Northwestern to the NCAA Tournament sometime in the future (preferably before my death). Will that happen this season? Honestly, I have no idea and beating on Texas Southern isn’t in anyway going to answer that question. Nonetheless, winning big ought to feel pretty good. I predict: Northwestern, 88 Texas Southern, 47