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Jeff Vorva's Extra Point: I'll side-step predicting if NU does the two-step in March

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

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They have teased us before, so I am not making any bold predictions.

But two years in a row we have seen something we thought we would never see in sports.

In 2015, Phillips became the first Chicago Public League football team to win an Illinois High School Association state championship.

In 2016…well…you know. But in case you in a coma all year, the Cubs won the World Series for the first time in 108 years.

Northwestern, you are up in 2017.

The Wildcats men’s basketball team has never qualified for the NCAA Tournament.

Never.

Northwestern, the Citadel, Army, St. Francis Brooklyn and William and Mary are the only five longtime teams who have come up dry the third month each year. There are some newer teams—such as Chicago State—who have also been miserable in March but haven’t sustained the longevity of being on the outside looking in as the Wildcats have.

After opening the season with an 11-2 non-conference record, it was easy to be impressed with the Wildcats but they have had gaudy non-conference records in the past and haven’t shown much in the Big Ten season.

Entering this week, they have conference wins over Penn State and Nebraska but losses to Michigan State and Minnesota.

The way the conference is shaping up, there are so many winnable games that I am almost ready to declare this as the year the Wildcats break the 0-for-forever streak.

But I’ll wait and see.

They’ve teased us before.

 The next wave on the North Side

The Cubs have so many young players poised to be on the major league roster who could be around for so long that it seems like it will be difficult for the next wave of top prospects to break the club.

But baseball is one of those sports that is not exactly predictable and you never know when or why a spot will open up on the 25-man roster.

Moving up to the No. 1 spot on the Cubs’ prospect list according to Baseball America is outfielder Eloy Jimenez, a Dominican star who probably won’t be up soon because he is 21 and the Cubs don’t need any more outfielders.

He hits .329 with 14 homers and 81 RBI for Low Class A South Bend and led the Midwest League with 40 doubles and slugging percentage (.532).

An unnamed club official called him “a physical animal.’’

No. 2 on the BA list is Ian Happ, a 22-year-old second baseman/outfielder (good luck with that) who was drafted by Cincinnati in the first round in 2015. BA says “Happ hasn’t mastered a position yet, mostly because he’s not truly average at one.’’

The magazine also said The Cubs gave him plenty of reps at second base, where scouts see stiff actions, rigid hands and below-average overall defense.’’

But his hitting is supposed to be good so maybe he will be eventually dealt to an American League team.

On the hill, the top prospect is right-hander Dylan Cease, who pitched in Wrigley Field in an Under Armour event and has already had Tommy John surgery. In short-season play at Eugene, he was 2-2 with a 2.22 ERA.