Maybe this season wasn’t such a disappointment in Evanston after all? They’re the only team from the Chicago area still alive, even if it is in the consolation bracket that is the NIT. Still, by Northwestern Wildcats standards this season became a rousing success with their blowout 85-67 win at #1 seed Boston College this past weekend. It gave them win number 20, tying the school record for wins in a season, set just last year.
As much as Coach Bill Carmody has been maligned this year (mostly for not closing out any of the games in which he had ranked Big Ten opponents on the ropes and failing to reach the NCAA Tournament when the pieces seemed in place to do so) he certainly must have felt an injection of vocational capital with the last two wins.
Beating the #2 seed Washington State Cougars tomorrow night would certainly give Carmody plenty of juice in Wildcat Alley as the ‘Cats would then advance to New York City for the NIT Final Four.
A victory by the Wildcats would advance them to their second trip to Madison Square Garden this season. NU participated in the annual Holiday Festival Dec. 20-21, defeating St. Francis (N.Y.) before falling to Lav and Keady’s St. John’s team.
In the last game, Michael “Juice” Thompson hit six 3-pointers and had 22 points and six assists while John Shurna contributed 20 points and nine rebounds. It was good to see Shurna looking back like his 100% healthy, non-conference form as he looks more fully convalescent from the concussion and ankle injury. Even though Carmody has previously said that Shurna won’t be fully healthy until May.
Northwestern is 3-2 all-time against Washington State. The Cougars won the most recent meeting 68-52 Dec. 30, 1996 at the Rainbow Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii. WSU (21-12, 9-9 Pac-10) advanced to the quarterfinals with an 74-64 home win over Oklahoma State very late Monday night. (This game has a very late start too: 10pm CT on ESPN2) Klay Thompson paced Washington State with 21 points while Brock Motum added 17.
Thompson, a first-team All-Pac-10 selection, ranks eighth in the nation with an average of 22.2 points per game. Faisel Aden contributes 12.9 ppg, while DeAngelo Casto leads the team with 6.8 rebounds. Ken Bone is in his second season at the helm of WSU; he has a 37-27 record in Pullman and a 114-76 record in six years as a Division I head coach.
Northwestern is making its sixth NIT appearance and its third consecutive. The Wildcats have a 4-5 all-time record, with previous wins over Notre Dame and DePaul. This is the deepest they have ever advanced in the bracket
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