Greg Bartram-US PRESSWIRE
Northwestern, one of the worst teams from the country's best conference, takes on Mississippi Valley State, one of the best teams from the country's worst conference. Will it be a blowout? Should you go to McGees? (Well, no, it's Thursday.)
Northwestern tries to go 2-0 vs. Mississippi Valley State. THE DELTA DEVILS! I invented SWAC, and this is the second team from that conference Northwestern has played in its first two games, and as such, should be Northwestern's second blowout win of the year. READ ABOUT IT IN GREAT DETAIL:
Wait. Mississippi Valley State sounds familiar, too: Astute, son!. The Double-D's played Northwestern last year.
So, uh, what happened?: NU won 92-67 behind a 59-point first half, Nick Fruendt's career-high 21 points and a Northwestern-record 20 three-pointers. (Not all by Fruendt, obviously.) John Shurna only played in the first half. And of course, the world was introduced to The Girl Who Wanted To Go To McGee's.
But... they're different this year, right?: Actually, they are the most different they could possibly be. Every player who played in last year's game is no longer with the team. (Yes, even Cor-J Cox is gone. So take down your Obsessive Cor-J Disorder Tumblr.) Regardless, the roster is made up of six freshmen, six JUCO transfers, and one sophomore, Blake Ralling, who played 122 minutes last year. Mississippi Valley State is like the Lance Armstrong of roster turnover, by which I mean they're the best at it and probably on steroids. I mean, some of the guys who played last year were freshmen. No idea what happened to all of them. They also have a new head coach, Chico Potts - yup, Chico Potts - after Sean Woods left for greener, headier pastures at Morehead State. (Actually, less green - it's MVSU's primary color.)
But are they better? They've already lost by 36 and 42, to Ole Miss and Cincinnati, respectively. So, at the very least, they're as bad.
What's up with all the SWAC?: The SWAC, is comprised entirely of historically black colleges, who happen to be some of the worst schools in the country at basketball. At the end of last year, eight of the conference's team were in the bottom 25 according to Kenpom, this year, all ten teams in the conference are in the bottom 75. Inside NU argued that MVSU's back-to-back appearances at Northwestern are just an example of the school's aggressive scheduling, that allowed the Double-D's to go 17-1 in conference and earn an at-large bid in last year's NCAA Tourney. I won't count that theory out, but: every team in the conference uses non-conference basketball games to subsidize the athletic department, and to a certain extent, the school as a whole. Take a look at the schedules of some of their conference opponents, all of whom play most of their games on the road, some of them play all their games on the road. To be honest, Northwestern sort of lucked out by selecting Texas Southern and Mississippi Valley State, who finished No. 1 and No. 3 in the conference last year and met in the conference championship game - it boosts RPI. Not sure if NU actually knew those teams would be better than their conference counterparts before agreeing to pay them to come to Evanston, while AD's at schools who scheduled Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Alabama A&M didn't do their research, but I doubt that to be the case.
Will MVSU be in the tourney again this year?: No, like Texas Southern, they also have a postseason ban this year, this one for low APR.
What do Barack Obama and The Girl Who Wanted To Go To McGee's have in common? Both saw a Mississippi Valley State basketball game last year. Barack took British Prime Minister David Cameron when he was in the states to a First Four matchup between the Delta Devils and Western Kentucky, commenting at halftime to CBS that "both teams are shooting terribly." I seem to recall The Girl Who Wanted To Go To McGee's similarly commenting at halftime that she really wished she had gone to McGee's.
Will either be in attendance tonight?: I can confirm that the Girl Who Wanted To Go To Mcgee's will not. I have not officially heard back from Barack's representatives, but sources indicate he will not be at Welsh-Ryan tonight. By the way, girls, if you'd like to be the subject of internet speculation from random pseudonymous basketball fans insisting I be more chivalrous towards you, I'm single.
Difference between the amount of times MVSU has been in the NCAA Tournament and the amount of times NU has: Five. They're 0-5 after last year's play-in game, which they lost 59-58 to Western Kentucky. In 2008, they lost 70-29 to Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook and UCLA, which is embarrassing, because both of those guys are awful in the NBA.
Names?: I like Montreal Holley, which sounds like the name of an infamous, but effeminate, Canadian mobster from the 20's, and Cordarius Samples, the second ___darius Northwestern has faced this year.
How many touchdowns would MVSU grad Jerry Rice score against Northwestern's defense: Last year, I said one. This year, probably none, on account of his additional age and Nick VanHoose.
So what should we look for?: Another game like the other day. Get up early, get the young guys some court time together. But unlike that game, DON'T LEAVE DREW CRAWFORD IN FOR 32 MINUTES. That's, umm, asking for trouble. I won't say why, because that's asking for jinx.
The game's on at 7 on the Big Ten Digital Network, i.e. the thing I haven't paid for.