Northwestern is going to the NCAA tournament for the first time in the history of the program.
There are still four weeks left before Selection Sunday and Northwestern has at least seven games to play in that time frame, but I don’t even think Northwestern is capable of Northwesterning this. On Sunday evening, while most were settling in to watch the Grammys, the Wildcats went into Madison and knocked off No. 7 Wisconsin, 66-59, despite playing without their leading scorer, Scottie Lindsey.
Chris Collins’ club now has a trio of top 35 wins, five more top 100 wins and no losses outside the top 70. Four of their top 100 wins are true road wins while a fifth came over Dayton on a neutral court. Four of their last six regular season games come at home, including games against Maryland and Purdue.
At this point, Northwestern would probably have to lose out in order to miss the NCAA tournament, and I just cannot see that being a thing that happens to them.
So congratulations, Wildcats.
For the first time ever, you should be able to celebrate something more than a trip to the NIT on Selection Sunday.
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THEY WERE GOOD, TOO
- UCLA: The Bruins overcame a 19-point deficit at home against Oregon on Thursday night, and while it shouldn’t seem that surprising that a team with as much offensive firepower as UCLA has came make a comeback like that, it’s relevant because of the struggles the Bruins have had defensively. They haven’t guarded anyone all year, and they held an Oregon offense that was as hot as anyone over the previous game-and-a-half to 0.65 points-per-possession for the final 14 minutes.
- Duke: Duke kept themselves in the thick of the ACC regular season title race with a pair of wins this week, beating arch-rival North Carolina on Thursday night before turning around 39 hours later and surviving Clemson in a letdown game. Duke has won five straight games, earned a top four seed in Saturday’s selection show bracket reveal and sit just a game out of first place in the league.
- SMU: The Mustangs took over sole possession of first place in the AAC on Sunday evening when they knocked off No. 11 Cincinnati, cementing themselves as a top eight seed in the NCAA tournament and solidifying a résumé that was not as strong as a 22-4 record might indicate.
- Gonzaga: At this point, it’s pretty safe to assume that Gonzaga is going to go undefeated for the regular season after they completed their season sweep of Saint Mary’s by going into Moraga on Gameday on Saturday night and trouncing the Gaels, 74-64. The Zags are now 26-0 and have yet to have a WCC opponent keep a game within single digits.
- Purdue: Going into Assembly Hall and knocking off in-state rival Indiana is good enough. Having that be the game that turns the tides on Indiana’s season – Tom Crean is publicly crushing his player’s for their maturity issues while the Hoosiers sit at 15-11 on the season – makes it feel even better.
After capturing a national championship earlier this year, the North Carolina men’s basketball team will not be visiting the White House, a North Carolina spokesman said to Andrew Carter of the The Charlotte Observer.
Although the Tar Heels were invited to go to the White House from the staff of President Donald Trump, the team couldn’t figure out a date that worked.
“We couldn’t find a date that worked for both parties,” North Carolina team spokesman Steve Kirschner said to Carter. “We tried about eight or nine dates and between they couldn’t work out that date, we couldn’t work out that date, so – we would have liked to have gone, but not going.”
According to Carter’s report, Kirschner also said that North Carolina players, “were fine with going.”
With Trump’s recent comments towards NFL players and the national anthem and his Saturday morning tweet at Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the President with regards to athletes over the past 24 hours.
Although the timing of this may seem like North Carolina is making some sort of political statement, the school is downplaying any sort of politics by focusing on the bad timing.
Xavier freshman forward Jared Ridder will transfer from the program to move closer to home, according to a release from the school.
The 6-foot-7 Ridder hails from Springfield, Missouri as he was regarded as a top-150 prospect by Rivals in the Class of 2017.
“After much consideration and talking with my family, I have decided that it is in my best interest to move home,” Ridder said in the release.
“Jared has indicated to the coaching staff that he has a desire to be closer to home,” Xavier head coach Chris Mack said. “While we are disappointed, we all want Jared to be happy moving forward. We wish him nothing but the best.”
A potent scorer and noted perimeter shooter at the high school level, Ridder helped MoKan win the Nike Peach Jam during the summer of 2016 playing alongside talented players like Missouri’s Michael and Jontay Porter and Oklahoma’s Trae Young. With a desire to move closer to home, could Ridder potentially land at a spot where one of his talented former teammates is playing?
Ridder averaged 24.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists during his senior season of high school ball at Kickapoo as he was a first-team, All-State selection in Missouri.
Creighton took a big hit to its recruiting efforts late this week as Class of 2018 forward Ian Steere is decommitting from the Bluejays, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. Steere’s decommitment was first reported by Julius Kim of Elevate Hoops.
The 6-foot-8 Steere is considered a four-star prospect by Rivals as he is coming off of a very solid spring and summer playing with Team Charlotte in the Under Armour Association. A plus athlete who isn’t afraid to bang on the interior, Steere showing an improving skill level throughout the spring and summer as he could see his recruiting soar after opening things up.
According to a report from Jon Nyatawa of the World-Herald, one of the reasons that Steere is opening up his recruitment is his desire to be closer to his native North Carolina. With so many top programs looking for quality help on the interior, it’ll be interesting to see which programs jump in and try to recruit Steere the second time around.
John Wall was inducted into the University of Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday night as he delivered an emotional speech while talking to his mother.
The first inductee into the Hall of Fame to play for current Wildcat head coach John Calipari, Wall only spent the 2009-10 season in Lexington but he became the first national player of the year to play at Kentucky before becoming the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.
Thanking his mother, Calipari, his family, friends and Big Blue Nation, the Washington Wizards guard gave a very moving speech, including an emotional part directed to his mother at around 4:35.
Ohio State continued a strong week on the recruiting trail on Friday night by landing a commitment from Class of 2018 guard Luther Muhammad.
Regarded as a four-star prospect, the 6-foot-4 Muhammad is a tough and rugged perimeter defender who can attack the basket. Also showing some ability to play on the ball as a secondary handler, Muhammad is a very solid addition to Ohio State’s recruiting class since they need to overhaul their roster under new head coach Chris Holtmann.
Muhammad is the third player to commit to the Buckeyes in the Class of 2018 this week as he joins four-star forward Jaedon LeDee and three-star guard Duane Washington in the current Ohio State recruiting class. Since Washington is a three-point threat and Muhammad is more of an off-the-bounce specialist, the two guards are a good start for Ohio State in this class as they will likely try to find a true floor leader to play with them on the perimeter.