With Michigan's opener against Radford three days away, it’s time for our biannual team-by-team Big Ten Breakdown. Starting in reverse order of projected finish, we start with the aforementioned Northwestern Wildcats - the only BCS school never to make the Big Dance.

2006-07 Record: 13-18 (2-14)
Projected Finish: 11th
Returning Starters: 3
Head Coach: Bill Carmody
Best Player: Kevin Coble (13.4 PPG, 5.2 RPG)

5 Reasons for Optimism:

1) Along with Mike Conley and Greg Oden, Kevin Coble (pictured) was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team... that's the last time you will ever see those three names mentioned together.

2) The Wildcats have only one senior, but their young players are all very experienced... at losing.

3) With Iowa and Michigan starting from scratch and Penn State and Minnesota being Penn State and Minnesota, NU should be able to surpass two conference wins.

4) Doubled the number of black players from last year - let freedom ring!

5) Freshman PG Juice Thompson was actually recruited by other programs (Oklahoma St., Clemson) and considered a 3-star recruit by Rivals along with Kelvin Grady.

5 Reasons for Pessimism:

1) Coble is taking a leave of absence to care for his mother and who knows when he'll be back.

2) Of Northwestern's 14 players, 10 are white. 10! They're like the reverse Georgetown Hoyas. We don't want to call Bill Carmody a racist (OK, that's a lie), but when there's smoke...

3) Having one senior also means there will be just one scholarship to offer a real basketball player in recruiting.

4) The Cats were outrebounded last year by nearly 10 boards per game (zero players over 6-8), which is an especially big problem when you suck at shooting too.

5) Aside from going 2-14 in the Big Ten, Northwestern also lost to Cornell and Tennessee Tech.

Carmody is a good coach. The guy led Princeton to postseason appearances each season after taking over for Pete Carril (2 NCAA, 2 NIT).

The problem is that Carmody is trying to run the Princeton offense with Princeton players. Thompson and Coble are a start, but this team is seriously lacking in talent and athleticism. Expect another long season in Evanston which could be Carmody's last unless the Cats show some real improvement by the end of the year.

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