Another game was lost; an opportunity disappeared. Northwestern's hopes of reaching the NCAA Tournament are likely over.
The Wildcats' 75-68 first-round loss to Minnesota resembled numerous failures this season. The difference now is that there's no tomorrow. NU is out of second chances.
Northwestern's postseason résumé shows just one quality win -- an 81-74 triumph over No. 6 Michigan State -- and ten losses to opponents with a Top-50 RPI. Ten swings and misses; an albatross around their neck.
The program's long history of disappointment can't be changed by this team. Its fate is in the hands of the selection committee. The verdict will be announced on Sunday evening.
"Hopefully I won't be disappointed on Sunday," said senior forward John Shurna. "I guess we'll just have to wait and see."
Head coach Bill Carmody stressed that Thursday's contest would not decide his team's fate. The reality is, it may have shut the door on its dream of dancing. It was one final chance for Northwestern to play its way into the tournament. Another miss.
"Northwestern gives everybody problems," Smith said. "I thought we were able to do the things we had to get done. Hopefully they'll move on to the NCAA because they certainly deserve it."
Sure, the Wildcats are worthy of such admiration. The problem, though, is that Tubby Smith isn't on the selection committee. That respect is a flattering compliment, but has no impact on Northwestern's postseason credentials.
NU's record is complete; it has no more chances left. It's likely a longshot that the Wildcats earn a seed in the 68-team field. If unable to reach the Big Dance, they will fall to the NIT for the fourth straight season.
"We'll be playing next week, and we like to compete no matter who we're playing against," said Shurna.
Where Northwestern plays is to be decided by the selection committee. After Thursday's loss, its fate may already be sealed.