Chicago's 3 current sports droughts: Cubs, Northwestern basketball and football

Chicago's 3 current sports droughts: Cubs, Northwestern basketball and football

By 5:30 pm central time today, we will receive confirmation of what we already know- that Northwestern is not being selected for the NCAA Tournament. Just like every year that they have played college basketball, they will not be taking part in the big dance.

Their season will continue on in the NIT, meaning that this is that rare time of year when the three teams in Chicago’s long sports droughts: Northwestern hoops (0 tourney berths), Northwestern college football (last bowl win 1949) and the Chicago Cubs (last World Series win 1908) overlap; as spring football practice and spring training are underway, complementing March madness.

Yes, there’s another Midwestern city, Cleveland, with it’s own issues. Cleveland has not won any major sports championship since 1964. And of course, they’ve been stymied by:

The Catch, Curse of Rocky Colavito, Red Right 88, The Drive, The Fumble, The Shot, Cleveland Browns relocation controversy, 1997 World Series, and The Decision.


Northwestern Wildcats basketball- zero NCAA Tournament appearances

The Wildcats at-large selection chances aren’t as good as the media might have you believe. Lots of very prominent media members are Northwestern alums, so because NU was on the cusp, they felt the need to give this storyline perhaps more attention than it deserved.

I mean LOOK AT THIS TWITTER PROFILE PICTURE. And Darren Rovell is as influential as they come in the sports media world. He’s the biggest of big shooters. (See Footnote 1)

But all the media propaganda we heard about “this game being the biggest in NU basketball history” (we heard it for the last two home games and the conference tournament game) is all actually 100% true.

Because Northwestern doesn’t have much basketball history. Yes, they hosted the first NCAA Tournament in 1939, but their last Big Ten title was in 1933. In the 14 years of the Big Ten Tournament, they’ve never even reached the semifinals. They’ve never won more than 20 games in a season, and that wasn’t even achieved until two years ago.

It’s widely thought that this year’s 18-13 team is the best in school history, but they’re still 1-10 vs. the RPI top 50, 0-3 in overtime (where they’ve been outscored 43-22) and they’ve lost 5 games by a single possession. Some would call all that progress; I say it shows how far they have yet to go.

Does that mean Bill Carmody sh0uld go? Let’s see how he does in his fourth straight NIT and go from there. It’s another argument for another time and place


Chicago Cubs, no World Series titles since 1908, no pennants since 1945

This one’s been beaten to death, and it’s easy to understand why, a century of failure is RIDICULOUS. Actually the NL championship drought is even ABSURD in itself. And it won’t change this year. With the hiring of Theo Epstein, and now spring training, a new, fresh round of Cubbie Kool-Aid has been poured out in cups everywhere. But they’re still projected to win 66-71 games and take a look at their everyday nine and starting rotation- how many names do you recognize?

Northwestern football- no bowl wins since 1949

NU didn’t “shock the monkey” in Houston this past December unfortunately. From

Wherever the Northwestern Wildcats have ventured to in Houston, they are led by an old nemesis. It is a small, furry, stuffed animal monkey, given by head coach Pat Fitzgerald to his players, which symbolizes the program’s bowl drought.

“It’s pretty old, it’s like 63 years old, or something like that,” said Fitzgerald. “It’s kind of embarrassing, of be honest with you.”

The monkey is signifies the monkey on the Northwestern football program’s back—a 63-year bowl drought and eight consecutive bowl game losses.

So now it’s 64 years and nine straight bowl losses.

It’s not all bad on the drought front. The Chicago Blackhawks won it all in 2010; for the first time since 1961. This made Chicago the only city to have all four titles in the last 25 years; until the Boston Bruins came along and did it the next year.

1. Other NU alums in the national sports media: Michael Wilbon, Tommy Craggs, Mike Greenberg, Rachel Nichols.

In full disclosure mode, about half the writers in the history of this site have been Northwestern journalism students. Medill is like The Sports Bank’s AAA team. Evanston is very close to Chicago’s Lakeview East neighborhood like the Rockford Icehogs are there for the Blackhawks.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports, an official Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports

A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; and he’s a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.

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