Northwestern’s postseason journey will begin Thursday afternoon in Indianapolis against Michigan State.
After a loss to Iowa on Sunday, Northwestern (16-13, 9-9) fell into a four-way tie for sixth-place in the Big Ten. Because of tie-breakers, the Wildcats dropped to the No. 8 seed, behind Nebraska, who faces the Illinois-Purdue winner, and Minnesota, who will face Indiana, a team NU beat twice this year. Here’s the full bracket:
Northwestern will face Michigan State, a team that was ranked No. 15 back in early January when it visited Evanston. An 18-9 fourth quarter fueled a 70-62 upset win for the Wildcats. The Spartans had a disappointing record in Big Ten play, but also beat No. 3 Oregon, No. 9 Maryland, and No. 16 Iowa at various points this season. ESPN.com has Michigan State as a No. 9 seed in its latest iteration of bracketology.
If NU can get by Michigan State again, it will face Maryland on Friday. The Terrapins (26-3, 15-3) are ranked No. 8 in the country and defeated Northwestern 72-57 in February.
The Wildcats almost certainly need to win the conference tournament to get into the field of 64. A loss likely means a trip to the WNIT, and a chance at one more home game for Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah in a Wildcat uniform.