For the second time in three years, Northwestern, the only college basketball team from a power six conference never to have made the NCAA Tournament, has won an early season holiday basketball tournament.
In 2009, the Wildcats stayed home and beat a tourney bound Notre Dame team in the semi-finals of the Chicago Invitational Tournament. Then the Cats knocked off a talented, but overrated and underachieving Iowa State Cyclones squad to capture the tournament title at the UIC Pavilion.
This year, they beat LSU, Tulsa and Seton Hall out of the Big East in order to capture the Charleston Classic tournament title. In the tournament’s opener, NU’s John Shurna dropped 37, the most by any college player in a single game this far.
So how much will these three wins help their RPI to get into the tourney this year? Very little; or not at all.
This site did a preseason ranking and comprehensive preview of all the top 111 teams in college basketball. You can see the full list; with links to all the team previews here.
Here is where we ranked NU “marquee” non-conference games/opponents in the Charleston Classic:
All the non-conference games are against mid-low-majors, many of which you’ve never heard off. There is #7 Baylor on December 4th though! The Baylor Bears come to Evanston, and if the Cats protect home court, that would be a signature win. Meaning they could get into the tourney if they went 10-8 or 11-7 in the Big Ten conference. If they lose, because their non-conference schedule is so incredibly weak, they’ll have to go 12-6 or better in league play to go dancing.
A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; he’s also a member of the FWAA, USBWA and SPJ. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.