Jim Phillips, Chris Collins

Northwestern plans to upgrade Welsh-Ryan Arena

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On Nov. 10, Northwestern head coach Chris Collins got the first win of his coaching career in a 72-55 win over Eastern Illinois behind 25 points and 11 rebounds from fifth-year senior Drew Crawford.

Collins is looking to take the Wildcats to uncharted territory: The NCAA tournament.

Northwestern, which is 1-1 on the season following a loss to Stanford, likely won’t make the tournament this season, but Collins could be the coach to lead the Wildcats to that feat. He’s got the coaching background from his father and Coach K, and quickly into his new job he was able to tap into Chicago when he landed a commitment from St. Rita High small forward Vic Law.

Collins’ tenure as head coach appears to be off to a good start, and in time he’ll have a revamped Welsh-Ryan Arena, as he continues to change the culture of the Northwestern basketball program. Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune reported on Saturday that Northwestern’s home arena will get a new floor, video scoreboard and cushioned seats in the stands behind the benches the university hopes to have in place for next season.

Installing a new scoreboard also requires the creation of a production control room, costs that can go north of $2 million. But Northwestern can recoup some of that by selling ads.

The new court likely will have darker purple and a block N, rather than the N logo with a wildcat head.

The arena largely has been neglected since a $6.75 million renovation in 1984. Nearly 30 years later, detractors view Welsh-Ryan Arena as an oversized high school gym with the Big Ten’s worst fan experience.

The change in the arena is part of other plans to enhance the facilities of Northwestern athletics. For next season, Northwestern will at least look the part of a big-time basketball program with a new-look arena while Collins continues to to try and turn that perception into a reality.

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: