The Wildcats are still dancing.
After taking down Vanderbilt in thrilling fashion on Thursday, Northwestern (24-11, 10-8 Big Ten) is set to take on the Gonzaga Bulldogs (33-1, 17-1 WCC) in the Round of 32 of the NCAA tournament this afternoon.
There was a lot to like from the Wildcats' victory in the Round of 64. Bryant McIntosh played the game of his life. Northwestern as a team shot nearly 50 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from three. Scottie Lindsey and Dererk Pardon stepped up in secondary roles and made plays when it mattered. Clutch free throw shooting down the stretch proved this group to be a mentally tough one. There was a little luck involved, but Northwestern certainly earned its shot at the Zags.
A victory over the No. 1 seed in the West Region will require more of the underdogs, though. For all Northwestern did well on Thursday, Vic Law shot 1 of8, the team only mustered 10 assists, and foul trouble to a number of key contributors (McIntosh and Law specifically) threatened to derail a fast start out of the gate against Vandy.
Gonzaga has ranked among the nation's best all season (currently No. 1 in KenPom) for a reason. The Bulldogs boast an impressive front court and five scorers averaging double-digits. Mark Few's squad ranks near the top of the nation in virtually every statistical category (offensive and defensive) you can imagine. Though the popular narrative says that this is the preferred one-seed to face compared with the rest of the field, Northwestern will face a steep uphill battle to reach the Sweet 16 in its first ever NCAA tournament appearance.
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