Northwestern kicks off their inaugural season at “The New Welsh-Ryan Arena.”
Previewing tonight’s game, and how to watch it.
To find the last time Northwestern lost a home opener, you’d have to go back to a time when George W. Bush was president. Date yourself: It’s 2007, and Steve Jobs has introduced the iPhone, Barry Bonds has broken Hank Aaron’s all-time home runs record, and College Football News is still kicking it.
It was also a time when the NBA-bound Lopez brothers and Landry Fields were in their sophomore seasons at Stanford. In Evanston, the Bill Carmody-led Wildcats were so hapless, they scrapped together just one Big Ten win. When these two squads squared off at the old Welsh-Ryan Arena on November 15, 2007, #20 Stanford walked out the 71-60 victors.
Fast-forward over a decade later, and that era is gone, and so is most of its physical evidence. Tonight, Welsh-Ryan will be making its regular-season debut, and Chris Collins will be looking for his sixth straight win in the home opener since assuming the head coach position at Northwestern.
Boy, how the times have changed.
The Wildcats have faced New Orleans twice in the last three seasons, but despite the familiarity, the Privateers are largely a different team. They’re not the same NCAA Tournament team they were in 2016, but they did hang tight with Memphis, Houston, and SMU last season en route to a 15-16 finish. On paper, Northwestern is the strongest team New Orleans will face all season.
Collins talked up New Orleans after his team’s 83-44 exhibition win over McKendree on Nov 2: “We’ve had them in [Welsh-Ryan] before. We know they play very hard, we know they’re usually athletic, they’re physical…They’re coming in fresh, they’re coming in confident, and they’re gonna be ready to go.”
Collins also discussed the challenges early-season games against formidable opponents like New Orleans can bring: “These early season games are tough because you don’t get a lot of film. You gotta go by last year, and returning guys, and word of mouth and try to put a game plan together. Early in the season, those are difficult games, because no one has been beaten down by losses. Everybody’s undefeated.”
ATS: No spread
SU: Northwestern wins, 76-63.
7:00 p.m. CT
Radio: AM 1160 WYLL