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Northwestern wins at Minnesota, is now fourth in the Big Ten

Feb 1, 2014, 4:20 PM EDT

Malik Smith, Alex Olah

It’s February 1st, and after beating Minnesota 55-54 on the road on Saturday, Northwestern is currently sitting at fourth in the Big Ten.

Let me repeat that.

Northwestern is fourth in the Big Ten. They’re in front of Ohio State, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Purdue, Indiana and Illinois. They’ve won four of their last five games, a streak that includes wins at Assembly Hall (Indiana), the Kohl Center (Wisconsin) and The Barn (Minnesota).

It’s been an unbelievable stretch for Chris Collins’ Wildcats.

“The guys, they’re so resilient and so tough. Tough week, we’re at Wisconsin then we have to play these guys. They’re so tough on the road,” he told Jim Jackson on the Big Ten Network after the game. “We’re winning with our defense.”

That statement could not possible be more accurate, as Northwestern is by far the nation’s worst offense among high-major programs. According to KenPom, the Wildcats average 0.954 PPP, which is good for 317th nationally, slotting them one spot ahead of Grambling, who hasn’t won a Division I game since March of 2012.

Think about that.

A team whose offense is only marginally better than Grambling is now sitting a fourth in the Big Ten.

I think you can legitimately make an argument that Northwestern is the most surprising team in the country, and any conversation for Coach of the Year that doesn’t include Collins is a conversation that should be happening.

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