Harvard beating New Mexico on Thursday night shocked the college basketball world. Harvard has not had regular success in basketball until recently and do not play at a very high level in the Ivy league. It has rigorous academic standards, even for basketball players, that make recruiting very difficult. They will never beat the big schools for top talent. Nonetheless, the Crimson have found ways to be successful.
A school that is very similar to Harvard that has not had any success in basketball is Northwestern.
Northwestern has never made it to the NCAA Tournament and recently fired head coach Bill Carmody after thirteen seasons of failure. Although Northwestern does not have quite as high of standards for its athletes, they are still much higher than other Big Ten schools.
Northwestern does not recruit well and as a result, it has inferior talent to its conference foes. Many fans and supporters of the program liked to blame the lack of talent and success on the high academic standards. They’re too good of a school to compete with basketball powerhouses, they liked to claim. However, that excuse just has no standing.
Harvard showed that with its win over New Mexico. Stanford has showed that with its fourteen NCAA Tournament appearances since 1991, and so have Vanderbilt and Georgetown with a combined 38 NCAA Tournament appearances. Let’s not forget that Duke is consistently ranked a top-25 university academically and top-10 in basketball.
This was why Carmody had to go. The excuses only go so far. That is also why the new Northwestern coach, whomever that will be, should be held to a higher standard than Carmody was in his thirteen seasons. Big Ten schools should expect to make the NCAA Tournament every season. There is no reason not to.
That is why it is so important that Northwestern hires the right coach. The basketball program won’t be fixed overnight, but it will never be fixed unless the expectations are raised. The Carmody days are over in Evanston — now the winning days have to begin.