Staff Predictions: 2022-23 Women’s Basketball Season

Northwestern women’s basketball kicks off its season Monday in a highly-anticipated matchup with the Oregon Ducks. The ‘Cats enter the post-Veronica Burton era with a a plethora of young talent – Jillian Brown, Melannie Daley, Carolina Lau and Caileigh Walsh are all expected to play big roles this season. Northwestern is also relying on veterans like Courtney Shaw, Laya Hartman and Sydney Wood, to lead on both ends of the floor. After the Wildcats narrowly missed out on the NCAA Tournament last season, we asked our staff if the ‘Cats can make it to the Big Dance this time around.

Here are your 2022-23 women’s basketball season predictions:

Ryan Choe (@RyanChoe_2602): 15-14 (7-11 Big Ten)

A new era has begun for Joe McKeown’s squad. Superstar Veronica Burton is gone and in her place is a youth movement, with over half the roster consisting of first-years or sophomores. This season should see a fair amount of growing pains, but having quality veteran contributions and leadership from Courtney Shaw and Kaylah Rainey should at least help keep the Blizzard defense rolling. Sophomores Caileigh Walsh and Jillian Brown will look to make the next steps forward in their developments, shouldering more of an offensive responsibility with Burton’s departure to the WNBA. First-years Caroline Lau and Alana Goodchild saw some playing time in the Parkside exhibition match, with Lau already appearing poised enough for a solid bench rotation role. Fellow first-year Lauren Trumpy adds some intriguing height to the roster as well, but overall it will be tough for the ‘Cats to earn a spot to the NCAA tournament in what is another deep Big Ten field this year. 

Margaret Fleming (@mgfleming12): 19-10 (11-7 Big Ten)

This year is going to be interesting for the ‘Cats, with a mix of old veterans and new rising stars. I expect Jillian Brown to have a standout season leading the offense, and with Sydney Wood back in her rightful place at the top of the blizzard defense, the ‘Cats will take care of business on both sides of the court. I think the biggest test for this team will be who can step up consistently in the scoring column. Many times last year, a rotating cast of Wildcats played the role of Veronica Burton’s right hand woman, but without their Backcourt Burglar, players like Melannie Daley, Caileigh Walsh and Courtney Shaw will need to be playing their very best basketball with double-digit points every night. I’m excited to watch this team and see how they compete in the Big Ten and against the non-con powerhouses of Oregon, Notre Dame and DePaul.

Ally Navarrete (@ally_nav12): 17-12, (9-9 Big Ten)

We all know that VB won’t be leading this team anymore, but I don’t think that stops the ‘Cats from seeing some decent success this season. With some fifth-year vets back on the court in Sydney Wood and Courtney Shaw, plus younger talent like Jillian Brown, this team is ready for a competitive season of Big Ten basketball. 

Looking at this schedule, I think non-con will generally be a breeze for the Wildcats. But, there are four really competitive games for the ‘Cats during this stretch: Oregon, Notre Dame, Duke and DePaul. With that being said, I think the ‘Cats can get at least one win in there. Otherwise, they should be comfortable and can go 8-3 overall in non-con play. In terms of the Big Ten, Northwestern’s only gotta face two of the media’s projected top five teams twice: Ohio State and Nebraska. So, despite VB’s absence, I think NU has the potential to go .500 in conference play again this year (that would be 9-9) based on this schedule. 

Brendan Preisman (@BrendanPreisman): 16-13 (10-8 Big Ten)

Veronica Burton is gone, but there’s still a lot of talent on this Wildcats roster.  Jillian Brown was able to score with ease in limited action last year, scoring eight points per game, and she will likely have an opportunity to hike those numbers up significantly.  Courtney Shaw will be a starter for the second straight year after averaging double-digit rebounds per game last year, and she should continue to provide great intensity and force on the boards.  The non-conference schedule is going to be tough with Oregon, Notre Dame, and Duke on-tap, and there’s also six Big Ten teams in the preseason top 25.  However, with the combined forces of Brown and Shaw, as well as sophomores like Melannie Daley and Caileigh Walsh, the ‘Cats should once again finish over .500.

Leo Tesler: 13-17 (6-12 Big Ten)

Losing Veronica Burton is going to have a huge impact on this team’s ability to compete in a loaded Big Ten conference, but hopefully the ‘Cats younger players will continue to develop in out-of-conference matchups. Courtney Shaw emerged as one of the most efficient shooters on the team last year, and it will be interesting to see how Jillian Brown, Caileigh Walsh, and Laya Hartman do in expanded roles this coming season. Some boosted performance from the younger players on the offensive side along with a pretty strong returning defensive core should at least give the ‘Cats hope for the future no matter how this season goes.

Patrick Winograd (@PatrickWinograd): 18-11 (10-8 Big Ten)

Even without Veronica Burton, I believe the ‘Cats have enough talent to compete in the Big Ten this season. Maybe I am being too optimistic by predicting Northwestern to finish with a better overall and conference record, but the Wildcats’ Big Ten schedule is manageable. The ‘Cats will look to finish above .500 in conference and contend for an NCAA Tournament bid.