Watching the Bubble Watchers: Thursday Edition

Impact of Yesterday’s Games

Yesterday was all about the Big East Bubble teams, and one game went the way Wildcat fans wanted, one didn’t, and one was probably a wash in terms of teams on the Bubble.

First, the one that may have knocked a Bubble team out… Seton Hall’s loss to Louisville.  When Seton Hall lost over the weekend at DePaul, we said that it damaged Northwestern’s tournament resume a bit because it knocked the Pirates out of the RPI Top 50, giving NU one less “win over teams in RPI Top 50.”  Then, Big East Tournament play started, and with Seton Hall now right alongside Northwestern in the game of musical chairs that is the NCAA Tournament Bubble, we began to root for them to lose, because a deep run in the Big East Tourney likely would have helped them lock up a bid.  They did crush Providence on Wednesday, but they lost to Louisville 61-55 yesterday, leaving them nibbling away at their nails for the next several days.  The four bracketologists we are following are split on Seton Hall – “Last Four In” for CBS’s Palm and’s Glockner and “First Four Out” for’s Lunardi and’s Bottoms in their latest projections.

At this point, a side-by-side resume comparison with the Cats favors Northwestern slightly IMHO,with the Hall’s only advantage coming in wins over RPI Top 50 (3 for Seton Hall, 1 for NU).  Of course, those wins (Georgetown, UCONN, and West Virginia) are pretty impressive, but I would argue that Seton Hall’s bad losses (Rutgers, Villanova, DePaul), at least to some extent, cancel out their good wins. Plus, of course, there is the direct head-to-head result of Northwestern beating Seton Hall 80-73 on November 20.  (All stats below are courtesy (subscription requried))

  • RPI: NU (47) / Seton Hall (62)
  • SOS: NU (12) / Seton Hall (44)
  • Bad Losses (AKA losses to teams outside of the RPI Top 100) – NU (0) / Seton Hall (3)
  • Wins vs. RPI Top 50: NU (1) / Seton Hall (3)

As for the other two “games to watch” from yesterday, South Florida took down Villanova, but considering how bad Villanova was this season, this win was more about South Florida staying alive than helping them get in.  If they can knock off #23 Notre Dame later today, that would go a long way towards moving them off of the Bubble and into Bracketland.

The  game that was, for the most part a wash – UCONN vs. West Virginia, the results of which we detailed in yesterday’s post.  That, combined with this this afternoon’s thrilling close loss to #2 Syracuse, just about cemented UCONN’s slot and probably wasn’t enough to knock West Virginia out, so no real help to NU.

Bubble Watch Watch

Good news, bad news folks… First, the bad news, for the first time all week, somebody has moved the Cats out their field of 68 (Andy Glockner at  Thus far, he’s the only one, but as we’ve talked about over and over, a loss to Minnesota this afternoon will likely have everybody else joining him in that move.  Now, the good news – somebody actually moved the Cats to a higher seed (Jerry Palm/

Joe Lunardi/ – IN – 13 seed, “First Four” vs. Drexel, Last Four In

  • Cats are still in the same spot for Joe as they’ve been the last few days, and Joe replaced Seton Hall with Texas in the Field of 68.  However, here’s something to make Northwestern Nation a little bit nervous (and H/T to AdamDG for pointing this out), in a tweet from Joe last night (@ESPNLunardi) – “Last night of my bracketology course: A 6-hour mock selection. Last team in: Drexel. Out: Washington, Seton Hall, Texas, Northwestern, Iona.”
Jerry Palm/ – IN – 10 seed vs. 7 Gonzaga
  • Jerry bumped the Cats up a bit in his latest bracket.  He had put them as an 11 seed earlier in the week, and held them there for the last few days, but in today’s bracket he moved them up to the 10 slot.  It seems that Jerry is the biggest Northwestern believer of the four bracketologists we are tracking, as he’s the only one who, as we’ve mentioned before, does not have NU in a “Last Four In”/”First Four Out.”  However, there is this tweet (@jppalm) that suggests that while Jerry may have more confidence than the others, he doesn’t exactly think Northwestern is a lock – “There is nothing solid about Northwestern. RT@jerjorgenson: Jerry please explain to me how Northwestern is so solidly in…”  And then that tweet was actually followed up with this reply from’s Glockner (@AndyGlockner) – “Not true. They are a solid choice to lose to any t50 oppt on any floor. :)”

Andy Glockner/ – OUT – Last Four Out

  • Mr. Glockner knocked Northwestern out of his bracket after having them as one of his “Last Four In” all week.  He replaced the Cats with Drexel.  Andy tweeted earlier today that he thinks Seton Hall’s resume is stronger than Northwestern’s.  As I stated earlier, I respectfully disagree.  I didn’t see any further explanation in Andy’s Bubble Watch as to why he dropped the Cats from his field, so I tweeted him to find out more.  His response“Looked at their resume again and adjusted.” As to why Drexel“Not sure why. Gut.”  (Thanks to Andy for being so responsive.)  I respectfully disagree, both with Andy and Joe Lunardi’s “course” that we mentioned earlier that placed Drexel in the field.  Drexel’s Strength of Schedule is awful (200+), and as Joe Lunardi pointed out earlier this week (subscription required), and we highlighted in an earlier post,  “would be — by far — the worst such mark to earn an at-large bid in at least 10 years.”

Andrew Bottoms/ – IN – 13 seed, “First Four” vs. Dayton, Last Four In

  • No change here from Andrew.  He still has the Cats playing Dayton in Dayton.

Games to Watch

Big day for Bubble Teams today, starting with the one who you might be a bit familiar with…

  • Minnesota vs. Northwestern, Big Ten Tournament, 1st Round, 4:30 pm CT on ESPN2 – As if I needed to tell you.
  • South Florida vs. Notre Dame, Big East Tournament, Quarterfinal, 8 pm CT on ESPN – South Florida is in the bracket for Lunardi, Palm, and Bottoms, all as a 12 seed, and among the “First Four Out” for Glockner.  A win over a nationally ranked Notre Dame team would probably lock up a bid for USF, and they may not need it anyway to get in.  Perhaps a loss by a large margin to Notre Dame could give the Selection Committee second thoughts about the Bulls.
  • Stanford vs. Cal, Pac-12 Tournament, Quarterfinal, 8 pm CT on FSN – A quick look at Cal’s record (23-8, 13-5 Pac-12), and they sound like a lock.  However, the Pac-12 was unbelievably weak this year (#10 Conference RPI, according to (subscription required), behind all the big boys plus the Mountain West, Atlantic 10, Missouri Valley, and Conference USA), and there’s a pretty good chance the Pac-12 may only get one team into the tournament.  So, while Cal holds a spot in everybody’s bracket right now, an early round loss to their hated rival could push them onto the Bubble.
  • Texas vs. Iowa State, Big 12 Tournament, Quarterfinal, 8:30 pm CT, ESPN2 – Texas has been all over the Bubble all week, bouncing in and out of the brackets of the bracketologists (say that three times fast) – currently in for Lunardi and among the “First Four Out” for Palm, Glockner, and Bottoms.  A win over a tournament-bound Iowa State team would definitely strengthen their resume, while a loss could keep them on the outside come Sunday.
  • Colorado vs. Oregon, Pac-12 Tournament, Quarterfinal, 10:30 pm CT on FSN – The case against Oregon begins with the same one we just laid against Cal.  On the surface (22-8, 13-5), looks good, but peeling back the onion, not so good because of the incredible weakness of their conference.  Plus, they’ve lost to Cal twice, have an RPI of 49, and have 0 wins vs RPI Top 50 (  So, Oregon likely needs to win at least this game, and probably more, to get into the Field of 68.  The Ducks currently reside in all four of the followed bracketologists “Last Four Out.”  Root for the Buffaloes to knock Oregon out of the Bubble equation entirely.
Is this how you thought it would feel?
One more quick note… Purple Mafia member (and recent Purple Mafia profile podcast guest) Stewart Mandel gives his own take on Northwestern’s tourney chances over at, and the odd feelings of having to sweat out Northwestern’s first shot at making the Big Dance.


  • pfoley

    They are a solid choice to lose to any t50 oppt on any floor.

    wow, and he dropped us from his bracket? what did we do, kill his mother?

  • skepticat


    Typical sportswriter bluster: one minute we’re the cinderella story of the season, the next we’re an embarassment to the sport. Certainly no room for middle ground there. And look at his response when called on it: “I dunno, gut.” I’ve gotten more contemplative thoughts from the stapler on my desk.

  • Steve Z

    Not sure if anyone is in West Lafayette area, but I’ll be at the Buff Wild Wings there with some of my (non-NU) friends. Go ‘Cats!!!

  • wildcat6

    Wow….horrible start. We can’t hit the broad side of a barn…(no pun intended)

    • zeek

      Prepare your heart for this finish…

  • Al

    Missed WAY too many layups.

  • JP

    What a shame.

  • cdmarine

    Maddening. Absolutely maddening.

  • Al

    Hello NIT. Damn. So Close!

  • cece

    sick, sick, sick of this same movie, can’t score for almost 7 minutes, can’t get it done in regulation, can’t win.

    don’t care if it’s NIT. done.

  • RW

    No field goals in last 10 minutes. Disgusting.

    I hope this is the end of Carmody.

  • cdmarine

    I am as angry right now as I think I have ever been in the 25+ years I’ve been a Northwestern fan. Unbelievable.

  • zeek

    Total inability to get a bucket was our undoing at the end.

    On defense, they seemed to get the hang of our zone by the end of the game; their ball movement on that second 3 pointer in overtime absolutely killed us.

    NIT for a 4th straight year. Definitely not where we expected this team to go.

    • DT

      They don’t win a game like this and spit the bit for the last ten minutes, they won’t last long in the NIT, which is right where they belong…

  • Bear 44

    That is how a coach wins a game and loses a game. Tubby spreads them out in OT and they dont stop them at all. Clown boy goes into a shell, cant even get the ball inbounds in crunch time and they dont score for 5 minutes. Now can I call for his head? Or should I wait for the pain to go away? Pathetic display on the sideline. I sure hope we can make another run to the NIT next season with this idiot. Go ahead, defend. If he isnt fired the admin doesnt care. This guy can not be defended.

  • DT

    Maybe Fitzgerald should have given Carmody the monkey tonight…

  • VaCat




  • fucking gutted.

  • zeek

    This game was a very painful microcosm of our season.

    • TomCat

      Agreed…this game, much like the season, too many missed opportunities.

  • Fire carmody

    The only thing that I hope to ever see on nusports website is Carmody fired. We need a real coach who can recruit players. Real players who are not just suited for his bs gimicky system. That system may be fine for a second rate conf. But not the big ten. Even when he gets good players he ruins them. No more money given to nu by me until he is gone.

  • long-term view

    Congrats to a team that played tough for most of the year.

    But yes, I too hope Carmody is replaced following the NIT. We’ve peaked under his leadership.

  • UVA Cat

    Classic…we played to not lose instead of playing to win. Good teams win these games, but we turned the ball over waaay too many times. No excuse…not sure if I’ll even watch the NIT.

  • zeek

    This was a must win game for this program. Can’t excuse a loss like this, where we can’t get a bucket at all at the end, and their ball movement slices our defense apart.

  • skepticat

    They couldn’t put a golf bowl in a swimming pool by the end. Fittingly, when all the chips were on the line, the world was truly shown what NU basketball is all about. *sigh*

    • skepticat

      They couldn’t put a golf *ball* in a swimming pool by the end.” Geez, can’t even type correctly after that pathetic finish. I think I just “NU basketball”-ed there….

  • Bear 44

    If he is allowed back, and after retaining the asst football staff, it will be clear the admin does not care about winning, and there is zero reason to be invested in this athletic dept.

    • NU68

      You are finally beginning to get it … it has always been this way … sports has a certain role at NU … it is all about the “total college experience” and nothing to do with winning. Nothing has chaned in the 50 years I have been involved.

  • knickelbein5

    So I am not gonna be as much of a dick as byebyefitz (I still can’t believe LTP has not banned you yet, and I hope you get banned after what you just posted above), however:

    Carmody must go. Northwestern has peaked under him. Bye bye Carmody! Thank you for your service.

    • Philip Rossman-Reich

      I will be sure to let LTP know about this situation. Adding to that, though, thanks to all the commenters for stepping in too. Self-moderation is the best as we don’t want to have to censor anybody. I can’t speak for LTP, but my philosophy is to let in comments and not have to moderate. When you start censoring, that is when you get into trouble and you stifle conversation. I agree that byebyefitz’s statement went over the line. I thank the commenters for quickly responding negatively to that kind of comment on this space.

  • DarkSide

    We will never get over the hump with this coach. He cannot and will recruit. The players tried. They came up short. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again hoping for a different outcome. I am not qualified to talk X’s and O’s, but if that is B.C.’s forte, we consistently come up short. If it is our lack of top notch facilities that keep away recruits then maybe no one can bring us to the next level.

  • Steve Z


  • fitz29

    What a effing shame. With the emergence of Cobb, all we needed was reasonable production from Crawford, Hearn, and Sobo. They went 3-24 from the field for 15 points combined. Maddening. The sad thing is these players are good enough offensively, even without a post presence. The Princeton O does not put the players in position to consistently succeed. How many times do we have the ball 28 feet out with under 10 seconds on the shot clock? So pissed.

    • SJ Wildcats

      +1. All I can add is that it did not help for the Cats to miss so many layups today. For some reason, whenever the Cats would drive towards the basket, they got intimidated and did not finish at the rim. Instead, they threw up off-balanced crap that missed. We had their center and Williams with 4 fouls each with more than four minutes to play in regulation and still refused to drive all the way to the rim! That was maddening to me when we could have forced Minnesota to foul (and sit the rest of the game) or let us make it all the way to the hoop.
      Ouch. This one really hurts.

  • Bear 44

    I too do not wish for anybody to die. Every post on this page from here on out should be to constructively discuss why this guy should be fired. He has no defense, or defense. Please stay on this subject. There is no other subject. Stay focused on getting this guy out.

    • knickelbein5


  • Steve Z

    My head is exploding right now. I feel like I jinxed it, having a bad feeling going into the game. Then I said “the only chance we have now is if we go to OT”.

  • Arrhythmia at

    Ugh. Same old Cats. It seems clear that Carmody has accomplished all he can accomplish and it’s time for him to take his talents elsewhere.

  • zeek

    My biggest problem with Carmody is that 1) we have no depth year after year, and 2) crunchtime execution is a perennial nightmare.

    At some point, he has to realize that we continually fail in the final moments of close games because on offense we’re too predictable and can’t get easy buckets, and on defense our zone is susceptible to good ball movement because we don’t have the athletes to really swarm.

    Minnesota’s execution on offense in overtime on that second 3 pointer was a textbook example of how to break down a zone defense.

    On offense, we literally had no idea what to do other than toss the ball around at the top of the key while they played tight man to man.

    The ending of this game and too many other close games has become inexcusable. Yes, we do sometimes pull out close games like against Penn State, but in the biggest stages where we absolutely need victories, we come up short…

    • CM

      Our offense isn’t “too predictable.”

      The guys just shut it down. They stop moving, stop screening and stop cutting. They go into freeze mode. In Champaign, they just let the offense run wild the whole game…and scored consistently down the stretch. Today, we just went into shut down mode.

  • Steve Z

    I can’t count the number of times after a game I said, \that’s it, I’m done with caring how this team does\ only to get drawn back in over and over. I was ready to give up hope so many times only to have it given back. This final one hurts.

  • Jon

    This sums it up for me (from ESPN Bubble Watch):

    “The Watch isn’t sure a win would have sealed Northwestern’s fate. It isn’t sure a loss does so either. But things are definitely leaning more toward the latter than the former now. There just really isn’t a whole lot here. The Wildcats didn’t suffer any bad losses this season (and Minnesota, as a top-100 RPI team, doesn’t count as a bad loss, per se), but their only top-50 win — in 11 tries, no less — came over Michigan State back on Jan. 14. Since then, Northwestern has dropped every big close game, every potential marquee win, oftentimes in OT or by narrow margins in regulation. Thursday was no different. It’s a heartbreaking situation for a tortured fan base, and this really felt like the year, you know? But right now, barring a rash of bad losses along the bubble or among current 10, 11 and 12 seeds already in the field, that historic tournament drought appears set to continue for yet another season. It’s brutal, but that’s life as a Northwestern fan, it seems.”

  • HudyBlitz

    This one is on Carmody. Four point lead and the ball with a minute to go, he calls timeout with 10 seconds on the shot clock to draw up a patented set play. We turn it over, they score and all downhill from there. And there was no chance we would win in OT.
    Maybe Shurna can hope to go out with an NIT win in MSG, but that’s not much consolation at this point.
    And now to drown my sorrows at St Elmo…

  • fitz29

    In basketball, all you need are 2-3 good players and a competent coach to have a team decent enough to make the top 68. True we don’t have a big man, but the talent of Shurna and Crawford with the supporting cast of Cobb, Sobo, Mercatullio, Hearn – hell, thrown in Juice from last year – the majority of DI coaches would have this team in the dance. How many times in conference history has the same team has a 1st and 3rd team All Conference Player and NOT made the tourney?

  • STLWildcat

    Here’s a stat I’m dying to know (because I think it bold underlines our inability to execute):

    In how many of our losses this year did we have a lead with under 2 minutes to play? 1 minute?

    I can think of several without trying very hard.

    • NU68

      How long until football?

  • Ron

    The evening is young. If the juveniles/drunks who showed up here in the Ohio State aftermath is any guide, I’d go so far as to suggest that the comments be turned off tonight after a certain time, because BBF95 may just be tip of the iceberg…

  • LaketheRims

    I encourage the fan base to email Dr. Phillips directly to communicate your thoughts on Carmody. I emailed Phillips a year ago and argued Carmody should be fired based on lack of progress over 10-plus years, and I will do so again. We need a young, talented coach who will bring a new energy to the program.

    So tired of this B.S. 5 guys and a coach. That’s it. There’s really no excuse for why we haven’t been able to figure that out … EVER.

  • go-nu

    I guess the only thing that might redeem Carmody in the eyes of many fans would be winning the NIT. But how certain are we that we’ll even be selected for the NIT this year?

  • Steve Z

    As for the players and the NIT, I can’t imagine how they’d get ‘pumped’ to play at all for any NIT game. After having so many ‘this is it’ games, only to come up short at this late time, how could they even have any effort left? As Shurna himself said, NCAA Tourney or failure – now that the season is a failure, how do you go on?

    Shurna was one of the best players to ever play for us, and he’ll probably get to 2000 points in the NIT – its a shame he couldn’t go out the way he (an all of us) wanted.

  • Philip Rossman-Reich

    A note to all the commenters:

    After a lengthy discussion with LTP and Brett, we have decided to take down byebyefitz’s comments and moderate him as soon as we can.

    Thank you for reading and contributing to this conversation.

  • nu bearz

    Listen kiddies

    Bye bye Fitz has it right. Bring the kid back. He is just saying what we all want to say. Feeling what we all feel. An. There should be no regulation in blogging.

    Now – let’s get back to firing Fitz oh I mean Carmody

    All you loth great we almost made it the the tourney are just that losers. I wen to this school cause I’m a competitive cuthroa winner. So are many of you as well. So let’s stop embracing losing. Illinois has it right. They fire Zook asap. They fire Meyers asap

    But we love losing coaches.

    Fire his ass. He sucks. Fire his ass

    I’m emailing Fitz and Phillips and Morty and the Ryans. Fire Carmody. Fire his sorry pathetic losing ass

    • Philip Rossman-Reich

      I am not disagreeing with expressing the opinion. There are several comments on this thread that are calling for Carmody’s firing. That is a reasonable way to feel after this loss.

      I also agree that there generally should not be much censorship of comments on this space. We are all entitled to our opinions.

      However, after Brett, LTP and I discussed the issue, we made an editorial decision that ByeByeFitz crossed a line with his comments about Carmody that did not have a place on this blog.

      He is by no means banned. He is allowed to express his opinion as passionately as he wants. We just want to avoid the kind of personal attacks that ByeByeFitz was using. Those have no place in the conversation on this blog.

      Again, we appreciate the discussion and passion from our commenters.

  • zeek

    Carmody managed to take us from perennial bottom feeder to perennial NIT.

    I’m not sure whether he’s the coach to take us to the next step.

    But unless we see a dramatic change in our endgame execution on both the offensive and defensive end, we’re not going to go anywhere. On both sides of the ball we tend to clamp up at the end of games; our defense is too easily broken down (or just doesn’t show up at the end like that painful Ohio State loss), and our offense really just stops running plays and sits on the perimeter until the shot clock goes down and we have to toss up a prayer and hope we’re fouled.

    The other problem I’ve had with Carmody is depth. Why do we always have the fewest usable players of any team; our guys get run ragged and we don’t have enough bench players we can count on…

  • bandcat

    Carmody has his faults. They have been well documented on this post all season. He should not be blamed for the lack of execution by some of our players tonite…Not going to name names you saw the game….I said he (Carmody )brought us out of the Abyss . I would have to say the next level will require a different approach and Coach…Heading to IU to visit the Bobby Knight shrine….One and done SUCKSSSSSS..Hang tough…

  • Drew

    I join the chorus of Carmody detractors. Beyond the various issues in regulation, how did this not become a FT shooting contest when we were down by 3 with 35-40 seconds to go in OT? Yes, perhaps Carmody instructed to foul and Cobb had a brain freeze, but if not, then that play in OT is the final straw for sending Carmody on his way. We didn’t get the foul and then they get an easy basket to go up 5 and the rest is history. How many poor executions at the end of games do we need to witness before we put the blame on the coaching? Thank you Bill Carmody for your efforts. You were given a gift by Bienen to keep your job for some unfathomable reason after the debacle of 2008 and you gave it your best. But it wasn’t good enough and it’s time for everyone to move on. We wish you the best. Dr Phillips, I’ve seen your passion at the games (I’ll never forget your pacing on the concourse when Shurna got injured in 2010) and I trust that you’ll do the right thing for the program. You’ve got a facilities plan to sell, and it will be hard for many fans to contribute if you retain Carmody after allowing Fitz to keep his staff without any changes. I bleed purple, but I need to see a 100% commitment to competing for Big Ten Championships. Go Cats!