This is Not a Story About the Chicago Cubs

Northwestern Head Coach Chris Collins; Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Northwestern Head Coach Chris Collins; Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

By Regina Robinson,

When there’s talk about a team from Illinois with no postseason chance, it’s usually about the Chicago Cubs – although many of Chicago’s other professional teams teeter on that line. The Northwestern University Wildcats have never been to the NCAA tournament – NEVER (not even when they hosted the tournament in 1939). But the 2016-2017 season could be the year the Purple and White travel the road to March Madness.

NU got the ball rolling last season, under head coach Chris Collins (since 2013-14), with record-breaking throw downs, blowouts and the ‘Cats first 20-win regular season.

Highlights included:

  • NBA Prospect Tre Demps doing what was expected at the Portsmouth Invitational in April: Lead his Sports Club team in scoring (18 points).
  • Setting the school’s regular-season win record (20).
  • Scottie Lindsey’s career high 26 points in a win against the New Orleans Privateers.
  • Northwestern’s defense showing no mercy to Chicago State University in December, allowing only 35 points (and tying the Wildcat’s 17-year old record for the lowest points allowed an opponent).
  • December, a very good month, as the Wildcats hit the century mark for the first time in 25 years (vs. Sacred Heart University); and Dererk Pardon performing as advertised, scoring 28 points against Nebraska. This was only Pardon’s second game in the lineup; he was originally going to be a redshirt, but got bumped up because of an injured Alex Olah).

Unfortunately, the season didn’t end as the hype projected. A two-point overtime loss to Michigan sealed the ‘Cats’ fate. We won’t rehash the emotional postgame press conference with seniors Demps and Olah (now one of Northwestern’s all-time block leaders) and coach Collins.

The ‘Cats didn’t even get an NIT bid. But that was then. This season could be resurgence, leading to a postseason tournament bid for Northwestern. Staying on the win side of some heavyweight contests is one way to keep the momentum.

The first Legends Classic will take place at the United Center in December. This high-profile doubleheader will have Northwestern versus Butler, and Illinois playing BYU. The Classic celebrates the tradition of Chicago basketball and will also honor (to be named) Chicago greats. Other non-conference contests on the schedule include two other 2016 NCAA tournament teams, IUPUI and Mississippi Valley State.

Also in the ‘Cats favor this season, coach Collins has the pleasure of three starters returning, including All-Big Ten guard Bryant McIntosh.

Hey NCAA, you may need to save one of those Big Dance invitations for another Big Ten team.

For more information on the Wildcats season follow @NU_Sports on Twitter or Northwestern Athletics on Facebook.

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