Northwestern, Illinois, not reaching high bar set at beginning of season

By Cristina Aguirre

During Big Ten Media Day on Oct. 28, 2010, expectations were high that seven conference teams could play in the NCAA tournament. The University of Illinois was hailed as a team with Final Four potential, Michigan State University was looking to claim a national championship and Northwestern University was on the verge of making its first tournament appearance.

A month before the tournament begins, the outlook for these teams hasn’t been what they expected. The Fighting Illini lost close road games to Indiana University, Penn State University, the University of Wisconsin and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Northwestern has dealt with the nagging left ankle sprain of their best leading scorer, John Shurna, since the conference play’s start. The Wildcats lost seven of their first 10 Big Ten games. The team experienced deflating defeats by Purdue University, Wisconsin, Michigan State twice, Illinois and the University of Minnesota.