Northwestern hosts its first National Invitation Tournament (NIT) game since 1994 Wednesday as the #4 seed Wildcats take on Milwaukee at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Tip is 7 p.m.
The winner of Wednesday’s contest advances to take on the winner of the game between #1 seeded Boston College and #8 seed McNeese State.
Milwaukee, the Horizon League regular season champ, fell to the Butler Bulldogs in the HL conference tourney, and were denied a NCAA Tournament bid. They are 19-13 overall, 13-5 in conference. The Panthers won nine of their last 10 regular-season game, had a double bye in the conference tourney, then defeated Valparaiso in the semifinal before falling to Brad Stevens and company.
NU (18-13, 7-11 Big Ten) is making its school-record third consecutive postseason appearance. The Wildcats defeated the #9 seed Minnesota Golden Gophers in the opening round of the Big Ten tournament before dropping an overtime heartbreaker to No. 1 Ohio State Buckeyes in the quarterfinals.
Minnesota’s late-season slide was sharp enough to keep the Gophers from even getting in the NIT.
After losing 10 of their last 11 games, the Gophers finished with a 17-14 record that gave them no chance of an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.
But they fell far enough to miss out on the NIT, too, leaving a team that was ranked 16th in The Associated Press poll the last week in January out of the postseason completely.
This will be the sixth NIT appearance for Northwestern. The last time the Wildcats hosted an NIT game was March 16, 1994 when it defeated DePaul 69-68. Northwestern won the only previous meeting with UWM 80-44 Dec. 14, 1998 in Evanston.
Written by Paul M. Banks, President and CEO of The Sports Bank.net, a Midwest webzine. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, the Tribune’s blog network, Walter Football, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports
He does a weekly radio segment on Chicagoland Sports Radio.com and Cleveland.com
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