The Northwestern Wildcats are nowhere near an NCAA Tournament team. In fact, they’re not an NIT team or even a CBI team. Nobody expected them to make any major tournaments this season, and they have not done anything to change those opinions. But the team does have some wins over legitimate Big 10 competition this season, which provides hope for the future under first year Head Coach Chris Collins.
Saturday evening, the Wildcats defeated the Indiana Hoosiers at Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Ind., the second upset in three games for the team. The previous Sunday, the Wildcats hosted and defeated the then-ranked no. 23 Illinois Fighting Illini.
While neither of those wins are going to make a difference when they finish the season with a losing record, it shows that Collins is going to coach a Big 10 style team. Big 10 teams usually win games with defense and physicality. The Fighting Illini could only muster 43 points against the Wildcats while the Hoosiers only put up 47.
Collins is a part of Mike Krzyzewski’s Coaching Tree. He has been coaching and recruiting at a high level since he joined Krzyzewski’s staff in 2000. Even though it’s not paying dividends right away, Collins could end up being the perfect coach for the Wildcats. Former coach Bill Carmody was a favorite amongst players, and did a good job with the team, but had never coached at a level equal to the Big 10, as his only previous Head Coaching experience came from Princeton University.
While we shouldn’t expect anything in the next few seasons, Collins is laying down a good foundation for a struggling team. If never making the NCAA Tournament counts as struggling, of course.