By Paul M. Banks
Being a fan of Chicago sports can sometimes be as character-building as walking outside for long distances in January. With Northwestern’s tournament bubble officially burst last weekend, the Major League Baseball season starting in a couple weeks and the NHL’s Stanley Cup playoffs commencing the following week, it’s time to revisit the long suffering dry spells that are Chicago’s very own. Before reading on, please do remember this George Michael lyric from his Wham! days “There’s no comfort in the truth, pain is all you’ll find.”
Northwestern Basketball: When NU begins the National Invitational Tournament (NIT critics pejoratively refer to it as the Not Important Tournament) at Tulsa this week it will be their first postseason appearance since 1999. However, the school that hosted the first ever Final Four in 1939 has ironically never qualified for any NCAA Tournament EVER. Of all the original Division-1 programs never to have been invited to the Big Dance, Northwestern is the only one from a big 6 (ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big Twelve, Pac Ten, SEC).
Northwestern Football: As spring practice begins in a couple weeks (the spring intrasquad game is April 25th), another year of tourney virgin status dreadfully reminds us of their current football streak: zero bowl wins since 1949. Yes, the Wildcats also hold this dubious distinction.
Cubs: I don’t need to bring up 1908 again. The mainstream national media has beaten this fact into the ground so much, you would think the story was once married to Ike Turner. Like the most shopworn of all clichés says “wait till next year.”
Blackhawks: The Hawks’ last won the Cup in 1961. This is the longest current cup drought in the NHL. At 48 years, it is the second longest Stanley Cup drought in NHL history, behind the New York Rangers, another “Original Six” franchise, which ended in 1994 after 54 years. Currently, the Hawks are in 4th place in the Western Conference standings, this spot gives them the final first round series home ice advantage over the fifth seeded team. Barring a major upset, their path to the Stanley Cup Finals would include a match-up with the top seeded team (likely their arch-rival the Detroit Red Wings) in the second round.
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