Northwestern coach Chris Collins

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Bernstein: Why Is Northwestern Bad At Basketball?

The Wildcats are 3-9 in Big Ten play at a time they should be held to a higher standard.

Dan Bernstein
February 11, 2019 - 2:55 pm
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(670 The Score) Somebody is going to have to remind me again where we stand on Northwestern hoops. Are we back to hoping the Wildcats are good every once in a while and celebrating a cute story when we can or was the bar raised once they finally cracked the glass ceiling of an NCAA Tournament bid?

Because this season has been an absolute train wreck so far for Chris Collins' team, and nobody seems to care all that much.

After its stunning collapse against Iowa on Sunday, Northwestern is 12-11 with a 3-9 record in the Big Ten. The Wildcats have lost four straight and sit at 71st nationally in the new NET ranking system, on the outside of the postseason and looking in barring some miracle in the conference tournament. I'm pretty sure it wasn't supposed to be like this.

It wasn't for 3-9 that Welsh-Ryan Arena was overhauled and modernized, ready to usher in some kind of new competitive era. Appetite whetted in 2017, it was time to turn attain into sustain -- to borrow a pet phrase of Collins' college coach Mike Krzyzewski -- using success to breed success.

And then last season happened, a 15-17 slog that featured a 6-12 conference mark good for 10th place. The accepted reasons for the disappointment were having to play nominal home games far off campus in Rosemont during construction in Evanston, combined with an atmosphere of entitlement that began to suffuse the program, a collective reading of all the good press clippings.

In the movie, though, what comes next is getting the Eye of the Tiger back. Or the Wildcat, if you want, as long as the guitar licks and the montage are included with the reminder of the importance of hard work before the inevitable redemption.

We're waiting.

Quality of play in the league has been strong this year, the competitive landscape challenging for a program thought to be on the rise. But that doesn't excuse an apparent reversion to the level of play evident in Collins' first two seasons here. I'm pretty sure I remember being told that it was OK to hold Northwestern basketball to a higher standard than before.

Something is wrong with whatever this is, and the current question may not be how it got back to this point already but why it seems to be fine that it has.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s Bernstein & McKnight Show in middays. You can follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein.​​