Power rankings welcome two new contenders to the weekly fray, as the Northwestern softball and lacrosse teams’ season just kicked off. Even though these squads are the school’s strongest programs (especially our powerhouse lacrosse team), they didn’t have enough to topple current top-ranked team, women’s tennis. And the bottom… still looks eerily familiar. To make room for the two new fixtures in the rankings, Willie the Wildcat will no longer be included. He still is awesome, though.
1. Women’s Tennis - Northwestern got off to a good start in their quest to capture a record 10th-straight Big Ten title. The ‘Cats smashed Penn State in the conference opener, sweeping the Nittany Lions 7-0. The team mopped up the Michigan Wolverines on Sunday, continuing early Big Ten success. NU remains the No. 2 ranked tennis team in the nation.
2. Fencing - Thanks to NU Sports and their usually great web site for neglecting the Fencing section, resulting in the team not getting the credit they deserved last week after they dominated Notre Dame. So, I’m giving them their due this week. But, knowing NU Sports’ updating abilities, the team probably did even greater things I don’t know about.
3. Softball - Great way to open up the season for one of NU’s prouder programs, as the Wildcats thundered to wins over Idaho State, Texas A&M and Nebraska. The No. 6 ‘Cats most impressive victory, against the No. 3 Aggies, saw Northwestern rally to top A&M 8-7. Welcome to the rankings, softball!
4. Lacrosse - Can they win it all again? NU looked solid Sunday in the season opener against Cal, taking the shine off the Golden Bears 16-9. One game down, a lot more to go.
6. Men’s Tennis - Well, this is telling. The Wildcats edged out Ivy Leaguers Dartmouth 4-3 earlier this week, but fell to party-place Arizona State on Sunday 6-1. Maybe the academic juggernauts really can’t rival the public schools of America.
7. Men’s Swimming - No action, but the Big Ten Tournament looms very close. The team should have a solid shot at doing well.
8. Women’s Swimming - Also idle, but prepping for the conference tourney.
9. Men’s Basketball - An absolutely agonizing loss at the hands of Ohio State followed by another painful loss to league-leading Purdue. Both games seemed winnable, but the ‘Cats just got outplayed and remain winless in the conference.
10. Women’s Basketball - Besides falling to Michigan earlier this week 47-40, NU faces Wisconsin on Monday night. I’ll let you know if anything crazy happens, like NU winning.