Northwestern Men's Basketball 2012 NIT Capsule

Northwestern Wildcats
Big Ten (18-13, 8-10)

Another year and Northwestern still could not crack the NCAA Tournament.  They come so close, but they just don’t quite do enough.  The Wildcats had some good wins this year.  There just weren’t enough of them.  In the end, Northwestern finished below .500 in a strong Big Ten conference.  There just aren’t enough bids to go around with this many good teams playing in the same league.  Still, this was a winning season for Northwestern.  They were led by their senior forward John Shurna.  He’s the star on a team that struggles to achieve postseason glory.

Big Wins: 11/20 vs Seton Hall (80-73), 1/14 Michigan State (81-74), 2/5 at Illinois (74-70)
Bad Losses: 1/4 Illinois (56-57), 1/22 Minnesota (52-75), 1/28 Purdue (56-58)
Coach: Bill Carmody (12 seasons at Northwestern)

Why They Can Surprise:
One advantage Northwestern will have is the fact that they’ve run the gamut of a Big Ten schedule.  It’s going to be hard to provide Northwestern more of a challenge than that.  Because they have faced high-octane competition, Northwestern has had to become a shooting team rather than a team that bangs down low.  They rank top 10 in the nation in three pointers per game at just under nine per contest.  This is also a disciplined team.  They rarely turn the ball over.  They are fourth in the nation at 10.2 per game.  Efficiency on possessions is key.

Why They Can Disappoint:
Defensively, Northwestern has trouble stopping people.  In the Big Ten, that’s nearly a death sentence.  Their opponents shot 45.2% from the field in the regular season.  They aren’t a very big or very strong team.  Therefore, their rebounding prowess takes a hit.  They are the sixth worst rebounding team in the entire country.  Northwestern is only about seven deep as a team.  They don’t get too much production out of their strongest bench players.  That ultimately hurt this team in the regular season, and will affect them the further they go in the NIT.  Plain and simple, Northwestern just doesn’t have as much talent as a lot of other teams in the country.  They can certainly play with anybody, but they don’t have  enough firepower to take down teams that are bigger and stronger.

Probable Starters:
Dave Sobolewski, Freshman, Guard, 8.8 ppg, 3.6 apg
JerShon Cobb, Sophomore, Guard, 6.4 ppg, 1.0 apg
Reggie Hearn, Junior, Guard, 7.6 ppg, 1.2 apg
Drew Crawford, Junior, Guard-Forward, 16.1 ppg, 2.0 apg, 4.6 rpg
John Shurna, Senior, Forward, 19.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.7 bpg

Key Roleplayers:
Davide Curletti, Senior, Forward, 3.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg
Alex Marcotullio, Junior, Guard, 5.0 ppg, 2.0 apg

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 69.6 (132nd in nation, 6th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 67.6 (194, 11)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.6 (83, 6)
Field-Goal Defense: 45.2 (290, 12)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.9 (9, 1)  
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 38.5 (29, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 68.9 (185, 10)
Rebound Margin: -5.7 (321, 12)
Assists Per Game: 15.5 (25, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 10.2 (4, 3)

Last Five Postseason Appearances:
Northwestern    2011    NIT    First Round win over Milwaukee
Northwestern    2011    NIT    Second Round win over Boston College
Northwestern    2011    NIT    Quarterfinal loss to Washington State
Northwestern    2010    NIT    First Round loss to Rhode Island
Northwestern    2009    NIT    First Round loss to Tulsa
Northwestern    1999    NIT    First round loss to DePaul
Northwestern    1994    NIT    First round win over DePaul
Northwestern    1994    NIT    Second round loss to Xavier

*all team stats through 3/4

See All Men’s Basketball Postseason Capsules