After a hard-fought season, it appears that the Northwestern Wildcats (17-12, 8-8 B1G) came up just short of college basketball’s biggest stage. The ‘Cats were not a part of the field of 68 selected to the NCAA Tournament, failing to hear their names called during Sunday evening’s selection show on ESPN.
In the end, NU was slighted by the committee in favor of DePaul, Dayton, Florida State and Missouri State, who made up the last four teams in. The Blue Demons were the only team of the group to face off with the Wildcats this season, downing them 78-75 on November 21. The six teams ahead of Joe McKeown’s team in the Big Ten standings — Iowa, Ohio State, Michigan, Maryland, Indiana and Nebraska — all received bids.
NU’s resume featured hallmark wins on the road against the Hawkeyes, who ultimately wound up with a two-seed, and at home in double overtime against the Wolverines, who were awarded a three-seed. However, losses to Pittsburgh, Penn State and Minnesota — none of which were close to tournament contention — seemingly mattered more to the committee than the Wildcats’ biggest victories, as did their No. 66 ranking in the NET.
Northwestern’s season could still continue. The WNIT field is announced tomorrow, and it is likely that the ‘Cats will have a bid waiting for them, should they accept. If they choose not to compete, it will mean the definite end of graduate student Lauryn Satterwhite’s career and the likely end of senior and projected WNBA draft pick Veronica Burton’s time in Evanston. Burton and fellow seniors Courtney Shaw and Sydney Wood all have the option to return for an extra year of play due to an NCAA rule change implemented in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic last year.
Update (8:31 CT): Northwestern is not included in the field of 64 released by the WNIT, suggesting that the Wildcats have turned down a bid. As such, their season is now officially over.