Jim Cowsert-US PRESSWIRE
Northwestern kicks off its basketball season with a game against Texas Southern, a SWAC team that Northwestern beat by 30 last season for their largest margin of victory on the season.
It's the first college basketball preview of the season! For what it's worth, SoP has a lot of season and player preview stuff on deck - we just didn't get it all done before the actual start of the season, and considering it's against Texas Southern, can you blame us?
Wait. Texas Southern. That sounds familiar: It should! Northwestern played them last year.
Oh word! What happened? Northwestern won by 30, the Wildcats' largest margin of victory on the season. John Shurna led NU in points, rebounds, assists, and blocks while hitting five-of-seven threes. No Tigers players scored in double digits.
Yeah, but everything's different this year, right?: Sort of. TSU finished third in the SWAC last year, but their coach, Tony Harvey, abruptly designed, opening the door for Mike Davis - the same Mike Davis B1G fans might remember from leading Indiana to the 2001 Championship game with Jared Jeffries, who, as a Knicks fan, I still can't believe was a highly effective college player. But they're still likely to lose a lot of non-con games. Last year they went 12-6 in conference after going 1-11 in the non-conference schedule - although they did win their only home game on the docket.
So... are they good? Well, nah. They do return four of five starters from last year's team including leading scorer Omar Strong, but they're coming off an 81-63 loss to Boise State. No problems expected.
Oh. I should've asked that first like I normally do: Yup. BTW, missed you, boldfaced questions guy.
My offseason's been good, thanks for asking. The job's good, and things are starting to get pretty serious with me and- : I didn't ask.
Okay.: Yeah, just more questions about the basketball. That's what you're here for.
Which team is more likely to make this season's NCAA Tournament? I can firmly say Northwestern: Texas Southern was banned from the postseason in 13 sports for up to seven seasons, including this year's basketball team. Although the school avoided the "death penalty", they were given harsh penalties due to "double repeat violator" status, instituted by strict NCAA Chief Dean Wormer. They had been on probation for 16 of 20 years and played 129 ineligible players over the years.
Texases (Texes?), per Kenpom: Texas (No. 22) Texas-El Paso (82), Texas A&M (111), North Texas (119, liable to fall after losing to Alabama-Huntsville Monday night but I'm writing this while watching the tip-off marathon so screw it), Texas Arlington (162), Texas Christian (180), Texas Tech (186), Texas San Antonio (201), Texas State (252), Texas Southern (253), Texas A&M Corpus Christi (327), Texas Pan-American (330)
Notable Texas Southerners: Michael Strahan, pretty much. It's also worth noting that Texas Southern, located in Houston, aka the home of the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas is roughly 250 miles north of Texas Pan-American, so, maybe one of them needs a new name.
Difference between the amount of times they've been to the NCAA Tournament and we've been to the NCAA Tournament: Four, most recently in 2003. They've never been ranked higher than 14, going to overtime in the play-in game the last time they were in the tourney, but did almost upset Arkansas in a 15-2 matchup in 1995.
Names?: I like Madarious Gibbs. He's like Darius, but angrier.
What to look for from NU?: Essentially the same things as the first game. Northwestern is a young team with a lot of players we don't know a lot about. So it's time to keep learning. The players that impressed the most while listening to the exhibition were Tre Demps and Alex Olah - how do they look in a game against D-I competition?
Game info: 7 p.m., BTN. (So I can actually watch it!)