In every year included in this study, Northwestern had a positive overall pythagorean margin, and in all but one the LOLcats had a positive margin in conference play. Their gigantic lead in the chart above isn't due to one season; it's consistently winning a game to a game and a half more than expected. Northwestern's nine seasons are all within the top 30 overall (eight are within the top 20), and all but 2002's 1-7 Big Ten mark are within the top 22 in conference play. Once may be a random occurrence, and twice a coincidence, but if three is a trend, nine is gospel. Northwestern wins close games.
Clearly, Northwestern continues to exceed expectations, despite its academic pedigree and talent gap.