Team of the Week: Northwestern Wildcats

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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.