Lace up your dancing shoes and pack your bags... the ‘Cats are headed west.
On Sunday evening, a moment six years in the making came roaring in as confetti flew. The Northwestern Wildcats were officially welcomed to the Big Dance, securing their spot in the NCAA Tournament. It is the first time since 2017 that NU will be playing in the tournament and only the second time in the program’s 121 years. The ‘Cats are the seventh seed in the West Region and will travel to Sacramento to take on 10-seed Boise State. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. CT.
While Thursday night looms large, Welsh-Ryan Arena was full of jubilation as the ‘Cats heard their name called on Selection Sunday.
“There is no feeling like seeing your name come up in the Selection Show,” Chris Collins said.
The excitement was palpable inside the arena as the Wildcats waited to see where they drew in the tournament. Every time CBS reached each region’s seventh seed, cameras were recording the screen, ready to capture history. The third time was the charm, as the big N flashed across the screen and confirmed what had been known since NU defeated Iowa 80-60 a month ago. Confetti spewed throughout the arena, the pep band blared the fight song and the party was on.
Cali, here we come baby! pic.twitter.com/odTDNoJ7F7— Northwestern Basketball (@NUMensBball) March 12, 2023
We’ll be dancing in Cali ☀️ pic.twitter.com/wbmz93Uqap— Northwestern Basketball (@NUMensBball) March 12, 2023
As the ‘Cats celebrated inside Welsh-Ryan, the university joined in on the festivities. In fact, it seems that some purple parties are in the works.
We’re Dancing! @NUMensBball will take on Boise State in Sacramento on Thursday, March 16, in the first round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Stay tuned for more details about the N Zone Pep Rally, local watch parties, and more. #marchmadness pic.twitter.com/ppfduLIdCu— Northwestern Alumni (@NUAlumni) March 13, 2023
While Northwestern alumni span the entire globe, an outpouring of support for the ‘Cats was all over social media. Whether or not they could make it to Welsh-Ryan, their purple pride was displayed.
WHY did this have to be the farthest most expensive destination for me to get to go ‘cats tho!!!!! https://t.co/zguX6BEIdY— Kalyn Kahler (@kalynkahler) March 12, 2023
And, of course, these reactions would not be complete without Northwestern sports Twitter. For everyone who has felt heartbreak over the last few years, today was a moment to enjoy what has been a long wait. A moment well-earned for everyone who has had years taken off their lives by close games and blown leads.
DO WE EVEN NEED TO REMIND YOU WHO COACHED AT BOISE— West Lot Pirates (@westlotpirates) March 12, 2023
Illinois and Penn State beating Northwestern and having to go to Des Moines as a result is the funniest possible outcome— Depressed Football Team Fan (@heinickethegoat) March 12, 2023
The celebration was short-lived for Northwestern, as Collins told the media that the ‘Cats went through an intense workout right before the show. One thing is clear, while NU is in the dance, just making it is not good enough.
“For a lot of teams, the end game is just being announced today,” Collins said. “The message to the team is do you want to just show up, get your ribbon and go home, or do you want to do something?”