By Dan Bernstein —
CBSChicago.com senior columnist

(CBS) Perhaps already a little too comfortable with a spot in the rankings and praise from all corners, the Northwestern basketball team has quickly given us a pair of losses that look out of place amid the new expectations that have been set.

Sloppiness with the ball and indifferent defense allowed Loyola of Maryland to score 75 points in a season-opening game that Northwestern won, but those issues then resurfaced in a 92-88 loss to unranked Creighton and then again when the Wildcats were blown out by Texas Tech, 85-49, on Sunday.

It was Chris Collins’s worst loss as head coach, and the early struggles in a 3-2 start merit scrutiny alongside all the positive attention he and his rejuvenated program have received after reaching their first NCAA Tournament last March. We noted here then that the novelty wears off fast as expectations climb, and it’s not enough for the Wildcats to be just the cute story anymore. This is what it looks like when you are given your rightfully earned place in the Top 25 that a breakthrough year and another solid recruiting class have brought, and it’s then up to you to justify it.

Most likely these are early growing pains in a long season for a school dealing with pressures that it never has before, as well as the added difficulty of playing games in Rosemont while its home arena undergoes renovations.

And it can also be seen as a sign of having come a long way, to even possibly begin to wonder if Northwestern basketball was overrated.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s “Bernstein and Goff Show” in afternoon drive. You can follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein and read more of his columns here.

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