UPDATE: Cats beat Ball State, 69-65! Ball State led 61-60 with about 4:30 to go, but NU was able to pull out the win. Wildcats will go on to host IUPUI at 2 p.m. CT at Welsh-Ryan Arena. NU and IUPUI played once already this season, with the Wildcats winning, 72-61, back in December.
Our Wildcats ball against Ball State tonight at home in the first round of the Women's NIT, the program's first trip to the postseason in three years. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. CT, game will be streamed on Wildcat All-Access.
Northwestern (15-15 overall, 5-11 in Big Ten play) limps into the tournament, having lost eight of its last nine games, as the wheels fell off after a very promising 14-7 start. But the postseason experience will be good for this very young squad, which counts three freshmen and two sophomores among its top five minutes-getters.
With the Wildcats losing in the first round of the Big Ten tournament, the team will have been off for two weeks, which probably isn't a bad thing. A couple of weeks of getting back to the basics in practice and recharging from the grind of a Big Ten season is probably just what the coach ordered, given how the last month and a half has gone. Also it gives the team some time to study for finals and write final papers and do those academic things that student-athletes go to college for.
Ball State comes into the game at 18-16 overall, 9-9 in the MAC. Despite the pedestrian record, the Cardinals almost made the NCAA Tournament, after scoring a couple of upsets in the MAC tourney and reaching the championship game, where they lost to Akron.
Winner of this game moves on to face the winner of Central Michigan vs. IUPUI. The full bracket is here.
This is the third time in head coach Joe McKeown's six seasons that the Wildcats have made the WNIT. In 2010, the team made it all the way to the third round (i.e. the other sweet 16) before losing to Michigan. In 2011, the Wildcats made it to the second round, losing a close one to Alabama.