If Only

Saturday's win over Illinois gave Northwestern a glimmer of hope to play its way into the NCAA Tournament. Wednesday's loss at Michigan may have ended any hopes of an at-large bid.

The loss to the Wolverines was not the worst loss the Wildcats could have endured but it was one they could not afford. Michigan and Northwestern each entered the game at 4-7 in the Big Ten. Michigan was actually ranked higher in the RPI (62) than Northwestern (81). Still, it was a game Northwestern had to win.

The Wildcats are 14-9 and 4-8 in conference. The program has seen dramatic improvement over the last two years. However, it is becoming more clear that the 2010-2011 season will be an "if only" season.

If only Northwestern completed that near miracle comeback at home against Michigan State. If only Northwestern finished a deserving win at Michigan State. If only Northwestern pulled off a stunning upset over top ranked Ohio State. If only Northwestern showed up in the first half at Michigan. If only all that happened, this would be a season to remember for all the right reasons. Unfortunately, the Wildcats will probably be remembered for a lot of missed opportunities.

The season is far from over. The Wildcats have six games remaining including opportunities for resume making wins at Wisconsin and against Minnesota. However, is anyone confident Northwestern can go into Madison and win in the best home court advantage in the Big Ten? Is anyone confident Northwestern will win knowing Wisconsin won by 32 at Welsh Ryan Arena earlier this year?

The Minnesota game may be one that Northwestern wins on what will be an emotional senior night for Michael "Juice" Thompson. But the image of Darius Morris' alley-hoop connection to Jordan Morgan might be the image that sticks out to Northwestern fans when they are picked on Selection Sunday to go to its second-straight NIT.

In case people say I am too negative, consider that right now Michigan's resume is vastly superior to Northwestern's. The Wolverines have seven wins against the RPI top 100 and the Wildcats have only two wins.

Not to say the rest of the regular season is meaningless but Northwestern's NCAA Tournament hopes will lie on winning the Big Ten Tournament, as it has for every year.

Purple Wildcats Top Stories