Predicting Northwestern sports in 2016


Daily file photo by Sam Schumacher

Nia Coffey drives to the basket. Coffey will play a key role for the Cats as they try to avenge last year’s opening round loss in the NCAA Tournament.

Daily Sports Staff

The year 2015 was a great one for Northwestern sports. Women’s basketball made its first NCAA Tournament since 1997, swimmer Jordan Wilimovsky qualified for the 2016 Olympics and the football team is looking to reach its first 11-win season in school history.

Of course hindsight is 20-20, and as a staff The Daily tried to predict what 2015 would bring to Evanston. Looking back at some of last year’s predictions, it’s clear we hit big on some and missed on others.

Ava Wallace and Kevin Casey correctly guessed that women’s basketball would gain an NCAA Tournament berth, while Alex Putterman incorrectly thought they would win a tournament game. Bobby Pillote was right that football would make a bowl game, but wrong about quarterback Clayton Thorson winning Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Lastly, Julian Gerez was correct to assume that Joey Calistri and Cole Missimo would make an All-Big Ten team (albeit second team, not first) while Mike Marut was way off in saying men’s basketball would finish second in the Big Ten behind Wisconsin.

Here’s what our writers think is in store for Wildcat sports in 2016:

Benjy Apelbaum: Women’s basketball will make a run to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament after last year’s frustrating first-round loss.

Max Gelman: Football will make another bowl game, but won’t win 10 regular season matchups. Men’s basketball will fall short of the NCAA Tournament yet again, while the women’s basketball team will advance past the first round this year. Jordan Wilimovsky will win a medal at the 2016 Olympics, and field hockey wins a Big Ten championship. 

Garrett Jochnau: On the basketball front, the men’s basketball team will continue to flirt with the tournament bubble in a weakened Big Ten conference while the women’s squad will build off last year’s success to emerge as one of the NCAA’s top teams. When the football team takes the field in 2016, it should remain a force and will use its depth and added experience to overcome the loss of key seniors.

Tucker Johnson: Men’s swimming has some tough years of growth ahead, but the women’s team is going to see big improvements under its new coach. World champion Jordan Wilimovsky has a tough race ahead at the Olympics, but I think he wins a medal next summer.

Sophie Mann: Football will go 11-2 for the first time ever, and Women’s Basketball is going to go past the first game of the postseason this year, and maybe even make it to the Sweet 16.

Mike Marut: Women’s Tennis will claim another Big Ten championship, avenging last year’s performance.

Cole Paxton: Northwestern swimmers will have an outstanding Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. In backstroke, 2007 grad Matt Grevers will defend a pair of titles from 2012, and Wilimovsky, the 2015 world champion in the 10 kilometer open-water event, will also win Olympic gold.

Bobby Pillote: Men’s basketball will be firmly on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament heading into March, ultimately just missing the cut and making a good run in the NIT. Women’s basketball and softball will each win NCAA Tournament games, and the football team will make it back-to-back seasons with a bowl game.

Ben Pope: Men’s basketball will miss out heartbreakingly on an NCAA Tournament appearance, but women’s basketball will make a run to the Elite Eight. In the fall, the football team’s offense will take a step forward but the loss of key defensive players, a difficult schedule and some bad luck will drop its record to 7-5.

Will Ragatz: Led by the underrated backcourt of senior guard Tre Demps and sophomore guard Bryant McIntosh, men’s basketball will finally end its tournament drought. The women’s basketball team will reach the Sweet 16.

Max Schuman: Men’s basketball struggles in Big Ten play, at one point losing seven straight games. Coach Chris Collins’ seat gets a little warm at the end of a season that started with such promise.

Dan Waldman: Despite starting the season 13-1, NU men’s basketball will miss the NCAA tournament because of its weak schedule. However, Aaron Falzon will make the All-Big Ten freshman team, and Dererk Pardon will cement his role as the starting center for next season.

Joe Wilkinson: Behind All Big-Ten quarterback Clayton Thorson, Northwestern turns in another strong season, but the team finishes 8-4 due to a stronger schedule.