The Northwestern Wildcats have gone a long time without making an appearance in the NCAA Tournament. How long you ask? Well, it has never actually happened. However, they are looking to make some history now that Chris Collins is the new head coach for the program.
Collins certainly comes from a place where certain obstacles needed to be overcome. He was an assistant for the Duke Blue Devils, who like Northwestern has a high academic standard. Meaning, neither team could recruit any kid in the country as they have to meet certain educational qualifications to be eligible to go to school at the universities.
Not that Collins will be looking to use that as an excuse. He has already stated that his time with Duke gives him an extra leg-up when it comes to recruiting players who must meet those standards. In fact, it seems like he is excited to take on the daunting task of balancing academia with putting together a competitive basketball team.
The real question for Collins is whether or not he can make the team March Madness worthy. Can he do what so many folks before him couldn’t? Based purely on assumptions and guesses (which is all you can do at this point), it would seem like it.
The Wildcats have already secured one recruit for next season, Nate Taphorn, who did not back-off from his letter-of-intent after Collins took over. Although, it has been reported that one time Northwestern commit, Jaren Sina, may be going somewhere else. This is not a knock on Collins, as he has not been given a full recruiting cycle to do damage on the recruiting trail.
It is unlikely that Collins will make an immediate transformation to the program. He still needs to get acclimated to the team he currently has, the area in which he will be recruiting and finding the correct way he wants to conduct business as the Northwestern head coach. Still, his background with Duke makes some of the previous obstacles former Wildcats coaches dealt with seem like a bump in the road rather than a monumental task.
If he is to take Northwestern to the NCAA Tournament, it will probably take a few years. Not that the Wildcats have really high expectations or anything. Years and years of being an afterthought is going to make it that much sweeter if Collins can get them dancing in March.
I mean really, what is a couple more years to wait until Northwestern gets a pair of dancing slippers anyway?
Joe is a Senior Writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @JosephNardone