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Dispatches From Blogfrica: Sippin' On Purple Talks Iowa-Northwestern Hoops

If I was a good blogger, I would have started this feature a few months back. But I'm a half-assed blogger, so you'll just have to live with getting it now (and for the duration of the season). What is it? Pretty simple: I ask questions of an opposing team's blogger, they answer. A truly revolutionary idea, no? First up: Friend of the Pants Loretta8 from excellent just Northwestern blog, Sippin' On Purple.

1) Iowa's main defensive weaknesses are an inability to defend the post and a propensity to be victimized by good three-point shooting and effective ball movement. Be honest: is Northwestern's offense going to kill our defense or totally MURDERDEATHKILL our defense?

Yes, that match up would certainly appear to favor Northwestern, what with their #12 in the nation offense per KenPom (ahead of Ohio State, THATS RIGHT, SUCK IT BUCKEYES) and all. Although you won't have to worry about defending the post; I'm pretty sure the BHGP staff could shut down Davide Curletti and Luka Mirkovic. (Ed. Note: This is entirely possible since Patrick and HFMR are giants. -- Ross)

I think Iowa's best bet would be to play zone, take away the back-cuts and hope Northwestern has a cold night shooting threes. Northwestern is also playing with a very short bench due to injuries so full court pressure to speed up the game and tire Northwestern out would be a good strategy as well.

2) John Shurna has an unconventional shooting stroke. Would you say that it most resembles: (a) an otter having a stroke, (b) a chasing dog finally catching that elusive car, (c) a death row inmate being electrocuted, or (d) a fish flopping into a vat of acid?

I'm going with (e) an albatross with two broken wings.

3) Is there a secret clause in Carmody's contract that requires him to have at least one Eastern European player (also called "Eurotrash" by the geopolitically insensitive) on the squad at all times? Where does he dig up these consonant-loving hoops fiends? And I know that you are a wager-friendly person; what are the odds that Luka Mirkovic drains a clutch shot against Iowa on Thursday?

I hope a secret clause is the reason he keeps bringing in these big white stiffs, because it would be pretty inexplicable otherwise. I believe over his tenure, he has recruited players from Serbia, Croatia, France, Morocco, Canada, Trinidad & Tobago, Luxembourg and Denmark, and next year he's bringing in a kid born in Romania.

As for Mirkovic, he's been out with an ankle injury the last three games, an injury that may explain why his game has regressed to poor man's Andrew Brommer levels.

4) On a scale of 1-10, how much does Northwestern's inability to make the NCAA Tournament in basketball rankle you? What are their odds of ending that streak this year? Is that streak more or less aggravating than the bowl game futility streak in football?

That would be a solid 10 out of 10. And this probably isn't the year either, although Sunday's upset at Illinois has rekindled enthusiasm and given them a fighting chance. I'd put their probability of making it at about 15-20 percent right now. At this point I just want them to have a realistic chance going into Selection Sunday, so I can be terrified/excited all day, ignore my friends and family, drink heavily, and then have my dreams crushed in a new and creative manner.

The basketball streak is infinitely more aggravating than the football version, largely because I've seen Northwestern football have great teams and great seasons. There was the program's first year of existence in 1995, the subsequent Big Ten co-championship in 1996, and the fantastically entertaining Big Ten co-champions in 2000 (although NU football ceased to exist that year for one week when a game in Kinnick Stadium was allegedly played, LA LA LA LA I AM NOT LISTENING). But yeah, Northwestern football fans have something to hang their hats on. The basketball fans have nothing.

5) Did Bill Carmody have a childhood trauma that caused his present aversion to wearing neckties? Has he ever considered wearing bowties? Do you find the fact that he looks like a mash-up of Newt Gingrich and Bill Pullman titillating or unnerving? Do you think Bill Carmody could effectively marshal the remnants of humanity for a last-gasp charge at a nightmarish invading alien army? (NOTE: In this scenario, the roles played by Jeff Goldblum and Will Smith may or may not be filled by John Shurna and JerShonn Cobb.)

I really have nothing to add to that.

But I will point out that Bill Carmody has the most underrated troll game in the Big Ten. His sideline histrionics after turnovers are great, but his best work comes when talking to the media. Whenever he's asked by a sideline reporter at halftime what his team needs to do in the second half, he simply says "Make shots" with a straight face, and people actually think he's serious. It's great. If Northwestern were actually good he'd probably get way more lippy too.

6) Finally -- prediction time. Who ya got?

Even though Northwestern should be about a touchdown favorite I'm worried about this game. NU's bench is really short, and Iowa goes deep into theirs. Also, Bill Carmody's teams have traditionally had letdown games after big wins like the one Sunday at Illinois. I'll say Iowa 75, Northwestern 72

Thanks for being a good sport, Loretta. Be sure to check out Loretta and Rodger and the rest of the SoP gang over at Sippin' On Purple. The Iowa-Northwestern game is in Evanston, IL on Thursday, February 9th at 8pm CT, with television coverage from ESPNU.