Northwestern's Bill Carmody optimistic

ROSEMONT, Ill. -- Northwestern coach Bill Carmody said Thursday he's optimistic the 74th edition of the NCAA tournament will be the charm for the Wildcats.

"I was hoping to get through this press conference without that [question,]" Carmody said during the Big Ten media day. "I guess five questions in is all right.

"I like our team. I think we have a really good shot. I think our guys ... that's what they're shooting for. They feel this is it. They're working toward that. We think as a team we have a good shot."

The Wildcats have never been to the NCAA tournament. Northwestern has reached the NIT for the last three seasons and advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time last season.

Carmody, who is his entering his 12th season at Northwestern, said he doesn't constantly think about the NCAA tournament.

"It doesn't weigh on my mind," Carmody said. "You have 340 teams, and that's the goal of every team to get in the tournament. The spotlight is on us more than any other teams because we have not been there. We've been pretty close."

Northwestern returns four starters, including Wooden Award candidate John Shurna, from last year's 20-14 team. The Wildcats will need to replace four-year starting point guard Michael Thompson.

Scott Powers covers high school and college sports for ESPNChicago.com and can be reached at spowers@espnchicago.com.