EVANSTON, Ill. -- Amazing.
However you analyze what Northwestern basketball has done over the past two weeks, whatever you think it means or doesn't mean for the future, there aren't many other words with which to describe it. Simply amazing.
Of course, there are actually others. Like "wow." Or "unbelievable." Or "WE WANT KENTUCKY." But the sentiment remains the same. Nobody saw this coming. Nobody.
Northwestern has won four Big Ten games in a row for the first time since 1967, and whereas in some cases stats like those can be useless, this one really does represent how sensational the run has been. Especially, of course, after losing 10 straight.
Even Chris Collins admitted he was a tad surprised.
"Yeah, I mean, I was down," Collins said. "After Michigan State, we all were down. That was a low point. I saw a lot of defeated heads in the locker room--including me, including our staff. My instinct is though, 'we're not going to go down like this'... we stayed up all night in the office, got our heads together and said, 'what can we do?'"
Fair to say they've answered that question pretty well.
It's almost as if Northwestern's players are surprised too. The Wildcats partied in the locker room after snapping the streak against Iowa. Three games later--three wins later--they were at it again. Once again, water flew a few minutes after the final horn Wednesday, forcing Chris Collins to show up at his postgame press conference in just a jacket and a Northwestern basketball undershirt. He had been doused.
Of course, he also showed up with a smile. In part, that is, because it's not just that Northwestern beat Indiana Wednesday night. It's how it did. The Wildcats have played plenty of exciting games in the past, they've beaten plenty of good teams. But Wednesday's game was thoroughly enjoyable. It was legitimately fun. Like, really fun.
Both teams had scored 40 points at halftime, more than Penn State scored in the entire game last Saturday at Welsh-Ryan, and it was tough not to just marvel at how high the quality of basketball was.
Last year, there was a game somewhat similar to this one. After Northwestern had won five of seven, Nebraska came to Welsh-Ryan, and the atmosphere oozed of Big Ten basketball. Wednesday night's game did too. But unlike last year, this one ended in a win.
Indiana's poor second half had a role in the final outcome. The Hoosiers went ice cold from beyond the arc, and regressed to their customarily poor form on the road. But for Northwestern, that was a bona fide, quality Big Ten win. And more than ever, it didn't feel like a fluke.
Is it a sign of things to come? Maybe. Perhaps probably, given what we've seen lately. Only time will tell.
For now, Northwestern is still just enjoying the run. For now, the players will continue to celebrate boisterously with students. For now, water will continue to fly in the locker room.
But that's because this run is still so fresh, new and unexpected. As Tre Demps said, "Maybe that will change. I don't know."
Maybe someday, a four game win streak won't be all that noteworthy anymore. That possibility seems greater than ever.