Sure, Northwestern didn’t win. Still, today was an incredibly successful day for the conference.
Wisconsin took care of #1 seeded and defending national champion Villanova, while Purdue withstood a comeback to beat a tough Iowa State team. The Wildcats had a tough task in #1 seed Gonzaga and made what started off looking like a lopsided blowout for the Zags a truly fascinating game.
Here are my thoughts after Saturday’s action.
Biggie Swanigan became a lottery pick
The issue with big men these days is that the evolution of the position has far outpaced the development of the players. To be a legitimate starting big in the NBA right now, unless you’re Rudy Gobert, you have to be able to shoot from distance. Just ask Jahlil Okafor how his lack of a three point shot has worked out for him in his NBA career.
Biggie was 3-for-6 from deep in the game, and his display of long distance touch on national television likely vaulted him from a no-brainer first round pick, to a surefire lottery pick. I’d also argue that him being on the shorter, but thicker side, physically, likely makes him even more intriguing for NBA front offices. He can slide in at the five to affect defenses because of the threat of an outside shot, but also has the girth to bang down-low and withstand the wear and tear of battling against other NBA front courts.
I’d confidently say that Caleb Swanigan made himself some money tonight. Yup.
Northwestern is here to stay
The Wildcats’ historic season came to a disappointing end on Saturday when they lost 79-73 to the #1 Seeded Zags.
I went to take a look at who the Cats bring back because clearly their success must be in large part thanks to seniors, right?
Sanjay Lumpkin and Nathan Taphorn are gone, but the Chris Collins will return every other player he coached to a first NCAA Tournament appearance in program history, and they also brought in a decent recruiting class for 2016. If the team can continue to gel and is energized by their trip to the tourney, they’ll be back next year.
This is a new era of Northwestern basketball, and I’d be completely excited and optimistic about the future if I were a Wildcat fan.
The Badger seniors are ready for a title run
Hayes, Koenig, Showalter, Brown.
Those dudes are ready. They knocked off the defending national champion Villanova Wildcats, and did so with more grit and effort than anyone had seen from them in a while.
They ended the regular season off in uninspiring fashion, which was worrisome for Badger fans. Wisconsin, though, has veterans, and that’s what pulled them through. Their seniors have plenty of tournament experience, including an appearance in the national title game, and that’s what helped them beat an equally experienced Villanova squad.
Wisconsin will next face the Florida Gators in Madison Square Garden on Friday. They’ll be looking to send the Gators home, and move to the Elite Eight in the World’s Most Famous Arena.
Florida is coming off a 65-39 dismantling of the Virginia Cavaliers and are just beginning to hit their tournament stride. It’ll be a tough task for the Badgers, but they’ll have plenty of confidence from their win against Villanova.
I fully expect this heavyweight tilt to be as exciting as advertised. I also fully expect the Badgers to do what they were unable to a year ago and move on to the Elite Eight.