It would be a very tall order, but this Northwestern basketball team can still match the 2016-17 team in total victories. (You can read the compare and contrast between that team and this one, over at this link)
Currently 21-11, if they reach the Elite Eight, these Cats would have 24 Ws, matching the only other NCAA Tournament team in school history, for the program’s record for single season victories. Let’s take a look at the path, and how to get through it.
#7 seed Northwestern basketball vs #10 seed Boise St. Broncos, Thursday March 16, Sacramento, CA.
Tip off at 6:35 p.m. CT on truTV, Brad Nessler (play-by-play), Brendan Haywood (analyst) and Dana Jacobson (sideline)
Spread: Boise St. -1.5, Matchup Predictor: 51.5% Boise St., 48.5% Northwestern
Big Ten Tournament/March Madness Talk: ESPN Radio Iowa, KGYM Boiler Upload Podcast
“We’re playing in the Tournament and a chance to win some games,” Northwestern basketball leading scorer and alpha dog Boo Buie said after the heart-breaking loss to Penn State in the Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinals.
“That right there is motivating alone.”
The winner of the Wildcats-Broncos game will advance on to take on the winner of No. 2 UCLA and No. 15 UNC Asheville. We probably know who that will be, as the Bruins had a solid case to be a #1 seed in this tournament.
Then again, once in a great while, a #15 seed upsets a #2 seed. Just ask St. Peter’s and Kentucky last year. In order to break the school record for wins, Northwestern would have to reach the Final Four.
If this were to happen, it would be about as surprising as Loyola’s run a few years ago.
Then again, this team has defied expectations all year long. Northwestern basketball coach Chris Collins is building something right now, at a place that has never had any basketball history.
“I feel like this summer is where it all really started,” Brooks Barnhizer said on Thursday night. We all came together and kind of told each other it’s going to be this year.”
Collins elaborated on this concept, during the same press conference.
“What these guys have done this year, the way they’ve rallied around each other, the way they’ve rallied around the coaching staff, I mean, everyone knows coming into this year there was a lot of negativity from the outside noise about where we were, where we were headed, what was going on with the program,” he said.
“We never wavered. But this is a special group of guys to basically block out the outside noise and say, you know what, we believe in each other.”
What’s the key in making it to the second weekend, and beyond? They need Chase Audige to go back to being a more reliable second scorer, and they need a consistent third scoring option as well.
Ty Berry? Nicholson?
BSU is a solid defensive team, and UCLA are elite all around. They have to be on, and their shots are going to have to be falling in order to move on.
“We believe in our coaches,” Collins continued.
“We’re going to go out there, and we’re going to show that we can do it, and they did…let’s go out and see if we can make some
noise against the rest of the nation.”
Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Sports Bank. He’s also the author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” and “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”
He’s written for numerous publications, including the New York Daily News, Sports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune. He regularly appears on NTD News and WGN News Now. Follow the website on Twitter and Instagram.
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