Breakin’ It Down: Northwestern Falters Late Against Iowa

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Losing a game on the road to the Iowa Hawkeyes is one thing. They are a good team and Fran McCaffery is probably a year away from a deep run into the NCAA Tournament. However, when the Northwestern Wildcats lose two key starters in the process it’s pure devastation. Both Jared Swopshire (knee) and Alex Olah (head) were ruled out at separate points in this one and that gave Bill Carmody virtually no options. He eventually settled on a small lineup but Northwestern didn’t make enough open three pointers and that was all she wrote. Let’s get to the painful breakdown…

QUICK HITS:

- What was up with Dave Sobolewski? He looked tired to me and really wasn’t the leader I expect out on the floor. His three point shot was especially worrisome. A few didn’t even reach the rim. I don’t get how you aren’t ready to go with a week off in conference season.

- Tre Demps is officially a lost cause this season. I really like the freshman’s spunk but he has no confidence. He should be the last guy on the floor shooting the ball at all times.

- Reggie Hearn had an OK game offensively but he made some very uncharacteristic mistakes. Losing the ball going up to the rim, not hustling back on defense and dribbling into easy turnovers, just to name a few. This is his final ride. It’s time to right the ship STAT.

- I guess we all found out why Nikola Cerina isn’t playing. He can barely move out there and has no idea of what to do on offense. A wasted season.

MOVING FORWARD:

This wasn’t a “must win” but it would have done wonders for the Wildcats mentally. They are now at 4 and 7 in the league and soon will be 4 and 8. There’s just no way I see them going into Columbus and knocking off the Ohio State Buckeyes. It would be a minor miracle.

That means they’ll have two games “to play with” the rest of the season to put them in contention for the NCAA Tournament. If you somehow finish at 9-9, with the Wildcats wins, you’ll get in regardless of your showing in the conference tournament.

If Northwestern can get to 8-10 in the league, with a win in the conference tournament, that’s probably enough. The bubble is marshmallow soft this year. Perhaps we can finally call this the worst ever and be done with it.

The road I see now is you’ll need to sweep your remaining home games to the Illinois Fighting Illini, Wisconsin Badgers, Ohio State and Penn State Nittany Lions. That’s possible, albeit unlikely. Of course, if Swopshire and/or Olah are done for more than a week you can just about forget about it. One game at a time until then.

Like my article? Hate it? Let me know on Twitter (@tmichaelcronin). I look forward to your thoughts.

 

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