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NU women's basketball, not to be forgotten

While our men’s basketball team regroups from today’s heartbreaking loss and keeps its fingers crossed for an NIT berth, our women’s team, which has been off since losing in the second round of the Big Ten tournament last weekend, also awaits its postseason fate.

An NCAA tournament bid is most likely out of reach, unless somehow the planets align juuuuuust right and coach Joe McKeown has some magic voodoo he can pull, but an NIT berth looks like a lock. The women’s fields for both the NCAA (64 teams) and NIT (64 teams) tournaments will be announced Monday.

I found two NCAA women’s bracket projections online, and both had NU, which finished 18-13, in the NIT, though somewhat tantalizingly close to the NCAA tourney.

Hit the jump for more info. listed NU among the "next 4 out" of the NCAA tournament, and when you account for the "first 4 out," that means Northwestern is likely a contender for one of the top eight seeds in the NIT.  Jerry Palm’s had the Wildcats listed among his "close but NIT" grouping, which also presages a top-eight NIT seed.

Whether we’ll actually get a seed that high remains to be seen, but at the very least, the team should be hosting at least one game at Welsh-Ryan. Given that the team went 12-4 at home, that’s a good thing.

An NIT berth, while a mild disappointment given the NCAA tourney hopes at the start of the season, would still represent a major accomplishment for the program. It would be the team’s second NIT bid in a row; prior to last season, the team hadn’t made the postseason since 1996.

Last year, the Wildcats beat Dusquene in the first round at home, then beat St. Bonaventure on the road, before losing to Michigan in the round of 16 on the road.

However the NCAA/NIT brackets shake out, the Wildcats will be looking to recover some of the mojo they lost in Indianapolis during the Big Ten tournament, where they pulled out a sloppy win against Minnesota in the first round before falling apart against No. 1 seed Michigan State, committing almost as many turnovers as points scored, in a 56-25 loss.

This will be senior All-American candidate Amy Jaeschke’s swan song, as she, gutsy point guard Beth Marshall and spark plug Meshia Reed hope to end their NU careers on a good note.