I'm going to first say that I'm pretty excited to see this season tipoff. I've got some doubts about this NU team truly being good enough to make the NCAA Tournament, but I like the depth of this squad and think they'll be entertaining to watch once the new players get comfortable. The season opener is against Texas Southern who comes to Evanston on the heels of an 18 point defeat at the hands of Boise State.
Texas Southern features star Omar Strong who was preseason player of the year in the SWC and Raymond Penn was a star in Boise posting 25 points. 6-7 Fred Sturdivant was also honored with preseason accolades. Still, Texas Southern is a team with a new coach and was picked fourth in their league. That new coach is former Indianan boss Mike Davis. I often worry when opposing coaches are familiar with the Princeton Offense, but NU regularly scored well vs the Indiana teams Davis coached. I also think having only one day between two games won't help Texas Southern. I'd look for Northwestern to try to attack the basket on both backcuts and in the post with Texas Southern featuring only one player 6-9 or taller. I would love to see Alex Olah continue to show his aggressiveness that he demonstrated vs Chicago in the exhibition game. I also look to see how coach Bill Carmody uses a bench which features three players in Nikola Cerina, Tre Demps, and Alex Marcotulllio who I think will be major contributors and two young guys in Mike Turner and Sanjay Lumpkin who are major upgrades in the athleticism of Northwestern's team. Really, in the past those five players would have been about the level of talent that NU's starting lineup. Things have certainly improved in Evanston talent wise.
Prediction: With as young as this team is at some point during the non-conference there will be a total clunker at some point during the non conference in which NU either losses to someone they shouldn't or gets badly beat by a strong BCS conference team. That'll be a good learning experience but it won't come Tuesday night. Northwestern, 77 Texas Southern, 53