After a 23-11 season, Northwestern gets to do something it has previously never done because the Wildcats are going the NCAA tournament. They earned a No. 8 seed, and to say this was a big deal to the Wildcats players and fans would be an understatement. Just look at how they reacted.
Northwestern has had NIT berths in the past, but this school has had a lot of roundball futility. From 1984 to 1992, Northwestern went 2-16 in Big Ten play every year but one. The exception to the rule was in 1990-91 when the team went 0-18 in conference play.
This year, the Wildcats started their season with a school-record 17-4 start and rode that start all the way to the dance. Welcome to the NCAA tournament, Northwestern.
You can see the full bracket here, and you can print one out here. The Wildcats will face No. 9 Vanderbilt on Thursday in the first round.
On the flip side, they lost to each of the three best teams on their schedule — Louisville, Michigan State, and Oklahoma State — and if conference brethren Illinois State doesn’t make the field, they’re not going to have a single victory over a team good enough to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.
Most people would agree that Wichita State’s overall quality should have them seeded in the Nos. 3-6 range. The problem is, their resume also makes it defendable to have them seeded in the Nos. 7-10 range. How the committee chooses to handle that is anyone’s guess.
If it’s the former way, then a lot of major conference powers with a lot of quality wins are going to be upset. If it’s the latter, then the little guys are going to be very mad, as are the poor single-digit seeds that have to square off against the Shockers in round one or two. Ask Arizona or Kansas how that feels.