Northwestern Basketball Heads to Indianapolis on Higher Note

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In upsetting #20 Penn State 80-69 today, Northwestern basketball achieved their first win over a ranked foe since the AllState Arena “era,” when they beat Michigan in Rosemont in 2018. The victory, a 7.5 point upset, also means the Wildcats will avoid back to back last place finishes.

They’re still relegated to the Wednesday night session of the Big Ten tournament, where they’ll play as the #13 seed against #12 seed Minnesota, but at least they head to the conference tourney with some positive momentum, having won two of their last three, and beaten a team that’s a lock to make the NCAA Tournament. Move over Providence, 2019-20 Northwestern basketball has a new signature win.

Northwestern, which scored the game’s first 10 points and jumped out to a 16-4 lead (literally squaring PSU’s scoreline), led for 34:17/40:00 with their largest lead being 16 with 5:01 left. It was a phenomenal way to close out the regular season, one that ends with an ugly 8-22 (3-17 in conference) record.

“We just played in a conference where wins were hard to come by, to win two out of three, one on the road, one against a really good team, I’m really proud of the guys,” said Northwestern coach Chris Collins after the game.

“I’ve seen a lot of growth- skills, habits, maturity.”

The win also comes on Senior Day, which was the final home game for A.J. Turner, Pat Chambers and Tino Malnati.

“I want them to feel good about being the bridge to the next wave of success,” said Collins of the outgoing trio. Malnati got his first starting assignment while Spencer had nine points, six rebounds and six assists.

Turner, who had 10 points and went three of four from the field, is feeling good about the trending direction of the team heading into Indy.

“We’re playing some good basketball right now,” he said.  “I think this win shows the work we’ve been putting in and gives us momentum…let’s keep it rolling”

“We’re looking forward to Indy, to playing loose and and free, we’re going to go with a lot more confidence,” added Collins in regards to the conference tournament coming up this week.

Penn State Coach Chris Chambers echoed the sentiment of Collins, noting how tough and deep the Big Ten is.

“The league is suffocating, it’s a bear,” he said, “but we love it that’s why we compete.”

He’s also looking forward to getting to the circle city, and getting a fresh start of sorts. PSU have now lost three in a row, after having won eight straight earlier this season.

“Let’s reset, reboot- it’s what we do with our phones, our computers,” Chambers continued. “It’s the Big Ten Tournament, it’s a new season.”

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “No,  I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation

You can follow Banks, a former writer for NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com on Twitter here and his cat on Instagram at this link

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