NU's Run Gaining National Excitement

As Northwestern makes a push for its first ever NCAA Tournament berth, the nation has taken notice to an underdog story. The Wildcats are looking to tackle a monster that has haunted their program forever. People are becoming enamored with the feel-good story.

There was a feeling in the air on Tuesday night. The same feeling resonated in Welsh-Ryan Arena and in the home of each television tuned to the game. A sense of nervous energy swept Wildcat fans before the ball went into the air in Evanston.

As Tuesday's game between Northwestern and Michigan progressed into a nail-biter. Wildcat fans were pulling for their beloved team; meanwhile, the rest of the nation was becoming enamored with a made-for-tv underdog story.

Northwestern represents the good in college sports. Its athletics programs are clean--on and off the field, and each athlete working toward a prestigious degree.

Historically speaking, Northwestern basketball has been the underdog, though in a negative sense, as it attempted--and often failed--to compete with the Big Ten's best.

Under Bill Carmody's leadership, the Wildcats have been built to compete with the nation's best teams. It makes for an exciting brand of basketball.

The Wildcats have captivated the nation as a true underdog story. Fans of other schools, and even Big Ten rivals, are rooting for Northwestern to reach its first ever NCAA Tournament.

It's natural. After all, who doesn't love a feel-good story?

Northwestern is led by John Shurna, the Big Ten's leading scorer, who was passed up by many schools. The lanky, awkward-shooting forward, known as the "baby-faced assassin," has become a trending topic on Twitter during NU's games, thanks to his sensational scoring abilities.

Junior guard Reggie Hearn surprised even his own coach, emerging into a key starter from a walk-on. Hearn was a vital part in helping the Wildcats upset in-state rival Illinois in February.

There's the scrappy freshman point guard, David Sobolewski, who has made a name as one of the conference's top newcomers.

Each player carries a friendly, polite manner in front of the camera lense, yet an intense demeanor on the court.

The Wildcats have been embraced by a packed Welsh-Ryan Arena, filled with energy and emotion, but also by a city hoping the school in its backyard can make history, and a nation which hopes for the underdog to win.

NU likely needs to win its last three games--road games against Penn State and Iowa, and a home contest with No. 8 Ohio State, the latter serving as the greatest challenge.

It will be a difficult road for Northwestern, but such is the case for underdogs. With each crucial possession, the nation will be watching, feeling the passion that the most die-hard Wildcat fans feel.

Everyone loves a feel-good story.

Chris Emma has covered recruiting, college football, college basketball and college baseball for Fox Sports & Scout.com since 2009. He served as a writer for Big Red Report, covering Nebraska athletics, and is now the Publisher of PurpleWildcats.com, covering the Northwestern Wildcats.
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