‘Cats Clobber Fairleigh Dickinson, Cerina Hurt In Debut; CFB ‘Cats on Edge of Top 25

Northwestern rebounded from an uneven win over Mississippi Valley State with a 27-point blowout over an overmatched Fairleigh Dickinson team Sunday afternoon at Welsh-Ryan Arena. The ‘Cats move to 3-0 on the year with the win, but the bigger question lingering after this game surrounds the health of Nikola Cerina, who made his debut and looked very impressive, but seemingly rolled his ankle late in the second half. Cerina was writhing on the floor in pain and had to be helped off the floor, albeit while putting weight on the foot as he did so.

Early on it was the Reggie Hearn show as he exploded out of the gates by hitting a pair of threes and another bucket en route to his team high 14 points.  A combination of some decent defense and horrid shooting by the Knights helped Northwestern to a statistical anomaly – the second 41-14 halftime lead in three games. I know what you’re thinking – “when was the last time…” – but, let me end the suspense. The LTP research department doesn’t go that deep!

With all due respect to Fairleigh Dickinson, I’m not sure what this game does to clue in Northwestern fans on progress or big picture takeaways. The ‘Cats were bigger, stronger and faster at every position on the floor. In essence, it was a glorified scrimmage against a team that won five games last year and Bill Carmody did just that. All game long Carmody did a good job of experimenting with personnel – big lineups, small lineups – you get the idea. Candidly, as I watched the game on BTN Digital – my biggest plotline for the recap was going to be about Nikola Cerina, the TCU transfer who finally made his much anticipated debut. Cerina missed the opener for personal reasons and then got the DNP vs MVSU. Within seconds of entering the game, Cerina grabbed a rebound on defense and then got the ball in the post and showed on his first touch that he is the strongest player we have. He took an entry pass from the point, drop stepped with a power dribble and schooled his defender for a lay-up.  For all of you who have sprained or rolled an ankle you know it could mean anything from an instant recovery to months of agony. Let’s hope it isn’t the latter.

Alex Olah had a huge mismatch as his man was about 5 inches shorter and about 60 pounds lighter and it showed. The ‘Cats starting center had his way in the post and continued his consistent play with 10 pts and nine rebounds in 16 minutes of play. The biggest concern for ‘Cats fans prior to Cerina’s injury was the tough day for Drew Crawford. After a frustrating, foul-plagued performance against MVSU, the senior star struggled, seemingly pressing at times on 4-13 shooting and an eight point day. Crawford did contribute on the stat sheet with 5 rebounds, 4 assists and a sweet blocked shot.

Fairleigh Dickinson shot just 37% (23/62) while Northwestern posted a 47% mark, yet the ‘Cats were a dismal 5 of 22 from three point range (23%). The ‘Cats dominated the boards and bested the Knights with a 50 rebound to 34 rebound advantage. Kale Abrahamson continues to impress with his sharpshooting and he put up 9 points on 4/7 shooting. Tre Demps flashed some athleticism on both ends of the floor, including a nifty drive to the hole that was Crawford-esque. Alex Marcotullio played very well with nine points and he cut back on his reaches picking up only one foul. In all, Carmody played 10 players at least 10 minutes, yet it was the guy who played a mere six minutes who drew the biggest crowd noise on this day. Chier Ajou, the 7-2 freshman project got a huge ovation when he scored his first collegiate basket on a late low post move that drew a foul and turned in to a 3-point play. Ajou nearly had another baseline hook, and he looked much more comfortable today in his limited play.  Below are the boxscores for the game:

Player Pos Min FG-FGA FT-FTA 3P-3PA OR-TR Ast Blk Stl TO PF Pts
M. Seilund F 31 7-10 0-0 2-3 2-7 0 2 1 0 4 16
K. Pearson F 27 3-5 0-0 0-1 1-4 0 1 1 1 1 6
L. Robinson G 35 3-10 1-4 0-1 2-11 2 0 0 3 2 7
M. Bolding G 30 5-13 2-4 0-4 0-3 3 0 2 2 3 12
M. Jones G 23 1-5 0-0 1-4 0-1 0 0 2 1 1 3
S. Harris 18 1-7 0-2 0-1 1-2 8 0 1 3 3 2
X. Harris 14 1-7 0-2 0-0 1-2 0 0 0 0 0 2
D. Moody 14 1-1 0-0 1-1 0-0 1 0 0 0 1 3
Y. Jules 8 1-4 0-0 0-1 0-0 0 0 0 0 1 2
Totals 200 23-62 (.371) 3-12 (.250) 4-16 (.250) 9-34 14 3 7 10 16 53
Player Pos Min FG-FGA FT-FTA 3P-3PA OR-TR Ast Blk Stl TO PF Pts
D. Crawford F 26 4-13 0-0 0-3 2-5 4 1 0 0 0 8
J. Swopshire F 18 2-3 0-0 0-1 1-4 2 0 1 0 1 4
A. Olah C 16 5-7 0-0 0-1 0-9 2 2 0 2 0 10
R. Hearn G 19 4-5 4-4 2-2 1-4 1 0 0 0 0 14
D. Sobolewski G 19 2-4 3-4 1-3 0-1 4 0 1 0 2 8
K. Abrahamson 21 4-10 0-0 1-5 2-4 0 0 0 1 1 9
A. Marcotullio 20 4-7 0-0 1-3 1-2 1 0 1 0 1 9
M. Turner 18 3-7 0-1 0-1 1-3 5 1 0 0 1 6
T. Demps 16 2-6 0-1 0-3 0-2 2 0 0 1 0 4
N. Cerina 10 2-3 1-2 0-0 3-7 1 0 0 1 1 5
C. Ajou 6 1-4 1-1 0-0 1-2 1 0 0 2 1 3
J. Montgomery III 6 0-0 0-0 0-0 1-1 0 1 0 0 0 0
O. Jimenez 5 0-1 0-0 0-0 0-1 1 0 0 1 1 0
Totals 200 33-70 (.471) 9-13 (.692) 5-22 (.227) 15-50 24 5 3 8 9 80

‘Cats Miss Out on Top 25….Barely

Northwestern is next in line in the AP Poll, finishing 26th this week. Kind of. The ‘Cats tied with both Boise State and Washington with 20 points, as the first teams in the “Also Receiving Votes”. But, Utah State and Mississipi State tied for 25th with 82 points. So, we’re really tied for 27th, which is the exact same number we are in the Coaches Poll.  In the Coaches Poll Utah State is 26th and Kent State is the last man in the Top 25 with 86 points, Northwestern has 59. You can check out all the polls here, but you already know that Notre Dame is now the #1 team in the nation. If you want to feed the “what if” factor how about the fact that if we could’ve closed out games a 1 vs 2 Notre Dame vs Northwestern game could’ve happened.

  • fullfathomfive

    NU play someone with a pulse please and stop this parade of chumps? Why
    play all these patsies from afar when many schools much closer are
    available for better games? The non-con chumps way of making the NCAAs
    is a proven failure. Let’s try something different.

    • CM

      TCU, Maryland, Butler, Baylor, and Stanford are coming up. No “non-con chumps” in that list. Can’t play a full 13 gm slate of tough games leading into a killer 18 game B1G schedule…

    • JM

      Really? If they’d won two out of ten close B1G games last year, they’d have made the tournament. With the Big Ten loaded, this is exactly the right approach, as their RPI will be sky high regardless of who they play in non con.

  • AdamDG


    • Thanks..my fingers couldn’t keep up with the song in my head as I wrote it…

  • Al

    I misread the headline and though the basketball team was on the edge of being ranked.

    • That means it was a bad headline on my part..will adjust

  • CMF

    I see that ESPN is predicting Wisconsin to be on the Outback Bowl and NU in the Gator. Is this even possible (assuming NU beats Illinois)? Regardless of if Wisconsin beats PSU this weekend (at State College), wouldn’t a loss to Nebraska in the B1G championship give them 5 losses. I believe the Outback could not even take Wisconsin because they would have 2 more losses than NU (even if the win differential is only 1).

    My guess is the guys predicting bowls are not aware of all the confusing rules for all these bowls and are not looking at remaining schedules of the teams. That said, assuming the guys at ESPN would not predict us to lose to Illinois, I don’t think it is possible for them to put Wisconsin in the Outback bowl.


      Check ESPN again—they are projecting NU to the Outback


      They are not. Seems like the ‘specialists’ who write for the conference blogs at ESPN are more aware of the rules and therefore have more accurate predictions.


    ESPN just projected ‘Cats to Outback Bowl. Reasoning…we will beat illinois and penn state will beat wisky…and outback cannot choose a team over another with 2 fewer losses.

    • CMF

      Really? On the website, they have Wisconsin in the Outback (link below). If I am correct, it shouldn’t matter if Wisconsin loses this weekend at PSU or not – they will need to lose in the B1G Championship for NU to go to the Outback (assuming NU beats Illinois).



        Rittenberg Blog just made the projections. It does hinge on whether Wisky loses this weekend. A loss in the Big 10 Championship game is not factored into the ‘loss’ rule. The evaluation is based on regular season losses. Bottom-line: Outback cannot pick a 7-5 (reg season) over a 9-3 record. Advantage: NU

        • CMF

          Great, thanks for the clarification. Even if Wisconsin wins this weekend, the Outback could select NU over Wisconsin if they lose in the B1G Championship. I don’t see that happening though unless Wisconsin had a really poor showing in that game.


            I believe the rule is that the Conference championship game does not ‘lower’ a teams position in bowl picture as it stands at the end of the regular season. Otherwise, you are basically penalizing a team for making it to the title game.

        • BostonWildcat

          Doesn’t the text below imply that the B1G Champ game IS included in the “2-loss” rule? I agree that it seems like it should NOT be that way, but that’s how I would read the rules below (pasted from the post a few days ago which was said to come straight from the Big Ten). This would make it much more likely that we’re headed to the Outback than if we had to rely on Wisky to lose to Penn State. Anybody have any solid evidence that the B1G Champ game is excluded from the “2-loss” rule?

          OUTBACK BOWL
          1. May select any eligible team after Capital One Bowl except a team that has two fewer wins or two more losses (in all games) than another eligible team.
          2. Should a 2nd Big Ten team move up into the BCS, then the two-win/loss differential requirement is no longer applicable.



            From an old Rittenberg post: “John, that rule only applies for the Capital One and Outback bowls” (that rule being the ‘2 loss rule’). “The other rule for selection applies to the Big Ten title game loser, which can’t fall below the Insight or Gator, depending on how many teams are in BCS games. But after that, there aren’t hard-and-fast rules on which teams can be selected”.
            Bottom line- If Wisky beats PSU but loses in Title game–we are in the Outback bowl (since they have two more loses than us). Strange but works in NU’s favor

  • CMF

    Bleacher Report ranked all 124 college football stadiums. A bit surprising to me, we landed at #82. I thought we would have been lower. They mention if the game day atmosphere would be better, it would be ranked higher.


  • CMF

    CBS Sports now has NU vs. South Carolina in the Outback Bowl. Why do I have a feeling that Wisconsin is going to beat UNL in the B1G Championship? They should have beat them in Lincoln except they had a bigger 4th quarter collapse than us all year. UNL seems to have gotten ever break go their way throughout the B1G season – they could and should have easily lost to Wisconsin, NU, Wisconsin, MSU, and to some degree PSU. Anyway – let’s go out and demolish Illinois. Worst case, we will be in a Jan 1 bowl against a SEC team.