At the beginning of the 2011-2012 season, the Northwestern Wildcats had one thing on their minds, reaching the NCAA tournament for the first time in program history. After opening Big Ten Conference play with a 2-3 record, the Wildcats may have the opportunity to reach the big dance if they can take advantage of a now wide-open conference. Northwestern has the best shot they’ve ever had at reaching March Madness not because of their overall ability on the basketball court but the inability of a single team to take control of the Big Ten. The Wildcats aren’t the best shooting or rebounding team in the country but they have shown a lot of determination to battle back from deficits this season. Over their past three contests against Illinois, Michigan and Michigan State, the Wildcats refused to lay down after large deficits and managed to win one of their games which happened to be against then No.6 Michigan State. The Wildcats are by far the worst rebounding teams in the Big Ten and it has shown in their losses to not only conference opponents but to Creighton as well. If Northwestern wants to build momentum off of their upset victory over the Spartans, they will need to do a better job of controlling the boards as they’ve been outrebounded by their opposition due to their lack of size in the paint. Luka Mircovic is not the answer at center as evidenced by Davide Curletti’s outstanding performance against the Spartans on Saturday. If this team hopes to move forward throughout the season, head coach Bill Carmody would be wise to abandon the Princeton offense for some of their upcoming contests. While the Princeton offense is unique and helps the Wildcats get easy shot opportunities, the inability to establish a true post presence gives the opposition better chances of defending Northwestern and getting easier rebounds. This could have a negative impact on Northwestern if they can’t make minor adjustments to their offense over the remainder of the season. Defensively, the Wildcats aren’t that great either and once again, I blame Carmody for this. If Carmody can’t understand that imploring a zone defense on a team with quality big men such Ohio State and Illinois, he shouldn’t be coaching in this conference. The Wildcats can’t allow opposing power forwards and centers establish their presence in the post if they hope to not only make an NCAA tournament appearance but have a winning record in the conference. Unfortunately, I don’t think the Wildcats can get over .500 in the standings within the Big Ten and they may miss the tournament once again. On a positive note, Carmody can get his team ready for another NIT appearance; it’s the only taste of the postseason the Wildcats will get.