(This post was written largely before NU's, well, pretty good game last night against Wisconsin.)
Did Northwestern ever really have a good chance of going to the NCAA Tournament this year? Probably not. Sadly, we all waited far too long to, you know, realize that, spending way too much time acting as if things could go, well, better. But truth be told, with a weak out-of-conference schedule, no bench production, and the Kevin Coble fiasco leaving NU without their likely top scorer, NU's hopes were dead long before we chose to acknowledge that. Probably around the time they stopped playing last year.
So I'm getting prepared for next year, and crafting a scale to let us determine precisely how dead NU's tourney hopes are at any given point in the season, going from least dead to most dead.
Alive and well
You know, walking, breathing, talking. That stuff.
When NU was in this state this year: Some might argue until the team's first loss, for the purposes of this, let's say until before Kevin Coble decided this season didn't matter. A team without its likely best player going up against a weak non-con in a very, very strong conference? Tough sell to the committee.
Remember that time someone wrote on twitter Morgan Freeman was dead? And everybody started waxing sentimental about how much respect they had for him and tweeting "I remember thinking it would take a man 600 years to escape from Shawshank, but Andy Dufresne" etc. Of course, he wasn't dead. He's Morgan Freeman. He played God in those Jim Carrey movies, YOU CAN'T KILL HIM. HE'S ETERNAL Nobody anybody has ever said is dead on Twitter is actually dead. In fact, if you're dead, and I say you're dead on Twitter, you very well might get reincarnated. But people love jumping to the conclusion that people are.
When NU was in this state last year: After the loss to St. John's, people assumed NU's season was over. Eventually, it would be, but for different reasons: St. John's turned out to be a quality opponent. It was all the other losses that doomed NU's season. Much like how some celebrities rumored to be dead on Twitter will eventually die. (Except Morgan.) At the time, we overemphasized that loss, much like rum
Bullethole-riddled Tony Montana (right before he gets shot in the back with a shotgun and dies)
Sure, he's standing on top of a balcony, screaming and cursing profusely, and killing nameless, inept Bolivian mercenaries with an M16. But that doesn't hide the fact that there are literally entrance and exit wounds all over his body, and that any human in that scenario (even without getting nailed in the back with a shotgun) has like, eight minutes to live. But because he's super-high from nosediving into a mountain of cocaine, he doesn't feel the pain and just keeps on trucking. Props to my Cuban brother for surviving so long, but things were not looking good.
When NU was in this state this year: When Northwestern decided to schedule a non-conference slate featuring a grand total of one team deserving a potential at-large bid, we had to have snorted a lot of yayo to think NU still was tourney-bound.
Poke it with a stick
It's clear things aren't going well when you've resorted to poking. It's probably dead, at the very least, comatose, if no notable snoring/breathing/other living stuff is going on. But, hey, that body over there has a fighter's chance of being alive, so, stick-poking it is. (P.S. I clearly wanted to go with "POKE HARDER!" "I'M POKING AS HARD AS I CAN" from the first episode of last season of Futurama, but, Youtube did not have it. Instead, I guess we get "I poked one it was dead" from Flight of the Conchords. Sorry.)
When NU was in this state this year: After starting off the conference season with three straight losses. Doomed. We pretended there was still potential for life if they turned everything around asap and that lifeless corpse responded to our merciless pokes. But nah. Didn't matter all three teams were ranked. Still needed a win there, and the fact they didn't get one pretty much confirmed NU was looking on the wrong side of comatose.
Zombies are undead, but they're pretty damn alive if you ask me. First off, they can kill you. Anything that can walk and kill you counts as alive to me. You have to shoot these guys in the head to end their quest for your brain.
When NU was in this state this year: Winning three of four against Indiana, Iowa, and Michigan, with the loss coming in OT to a still good (we thought) MSU team. Tournament chances still existed. They weren't looking good - in fact, they were pretty much tottering from side to side with arms extended yelling "BRAIIIINS" while covered in brain matter - but that's better than nothing. I'd also consider a trip to the NIT to be pretty zombie-esque: once you've been bitten by the NIT, you don't really have a choice but to participate even though your existence will just be searching the countryside for still living people and eating their brains. The NIT is a lot like being undead, really:
So the thuggest guy of all time had a little bit of a thanatological bent: he rapped about dying/killing people all the time, and the music video for my favorite Pac song is literally him getting shot and going to heaven but still appearing to people he knew as a ghost. Then he got shot and it took him a while to die, and then he released just about 40 albums after dying. BUT THE POINT IS HE'S DEAD. Yes, I get that all his songs that came out after he died were about him dying and have weird subliminal messages. But that's kind of like all the songs he came out with while he was alive. I was in Cuba, man. I looked. He's not there. (Neither was Elvis, but that's really besides the point.) The point is, he's very very very dead, because he got murdered, and people are dumb.
When NU was in this state this year: After a close loss to Ohio State. That's a posthumous album right there, the type of thing that made us think tourney hopes might still be living and breathing: NU was still dead, but one could imagine that it's hypothetically possible that it could be alive after almost beating the best team in the nation.
Jesus has been dead for coming up on 2000 years now, but homeboy's got staying power. He's got a public access show in South Park, Colorado, and oh yeah, the potential of him someday not being dead is the central aspect of the largest religion the world has ever seen, whose main point is that one time, he died, and has been the cause of wars. Some people think he hung out with Native Americans. Summary: he's dead, but peeps still talk about him.
When NU was in this state this year: I think we all thought a reincarnation was possible after NU beat Illinois on national TV, provided they completely turned around, started winning ASAP and got put back on earth and unsealed those seals and killed the Whore of Babylon and married the Lamb of God or something. (I took "Intro to the New Testament" last year and this is my summary of the Book of Revelation.)
P.S. Nothing personal, but, like, I hope Christianity doesn't end up being true, because I get the funny feeling these paragraphs here will tack on a couple thousand years of hellfire for me.
P.P.S. Even if I hadn't written all this stuff, I'd be pretty screwed if Christianity ended up being true. /jewish
Bison Dele's death is pretty tragic. Guy changes his name from Brian Williams to Bison Dele, then retires, goes on a boat with his brother and girlfriend, and his brother comes back on the boat by himself with a bunch of bulletholes on the boat. Technically, our boy Bison is still missing and presumed dead. But that's just because finding a body in the Pacific is a statistical impossibility. It's the Pacific Ocean. You can't say he's dead officially, because we don't know that he's dead. But you can stop presuming he's dead, because he's dead. If Bison Dele showed up at Bulls practice tomorrow, every single person would go "AAAAGHGHGHGH" because nobody in their right mind could possibly presume he is at this point in time.
When NU was in this state this year: Losing to Michigan and Penn State on the road in brutal fashion. Everyone starts calling for the coaches head. Technically, they were still playing games. But we had all sobered up, ceased the tourney talk, and began thinking NIT. Or worse.
Take the Bison Dele scenario, then point out that even if she survived her plane crash and took up life somewhere else, she'd have to be 115 years old right now to still be alive.
When NU was in this state this year: After losing to Penn State at home, sitting at 8th place or worse in the conference. No way you emergency raft off of that plane crash and stay alive for another 80 years. Although we can't technically declare the season "dead" until they don't win the Big Ten Tournament, which is, well, about as likely as surviving a plane crash, emergency rafting to an island, and living there for 80 years.
A dead guy
When NU could be in this state this year: Now.
Generalissimo Francisco Franco
When NU could be in this state this year: CBI.