Monday, March 13, 2017

Great moment

As a fan of Minnesota Golden Gophers sports for approximately 40 years, I've become familiar with the traditions of the other schools in the original Big 10 conference. In the '70s and '80s in particular, there was always one school which was seen as the proverbial coffee break in the conference schedule: The Northwestern University Wildcats.

In fact, the Wildcats (or, as they were often dubbed back then, the Mildcats) men's basketball team had never appeared in an NCAA tournament since the tourney's 1939 debut. But on Sunday, that all changed.

The scene at NU's home court of Welsh-Ryan Arena was something to behold upon the Cats being announced an entrant into the tournament on CBS's Selection Sunday program.

While it was all but assured that NU would get in based on its credentials, no one was taking anything for granted.

Until Northwestern turned up in the bracket -- a No. 8 seed playing No. 9 Vanderbilt in the West Region -- (coach Chris) Collins alternately sat with arms folded or his hands clasped, seemingly doing anything to keep from chewing off his fingertips.

Guard Scottie Lindsey said the team sat nervously as the CBS selection show rolled along without announcing the team and cameras occasionally cut to them during the broadcast."Just waiting to see who and where we were going to play was a little bit nerve-wracking," Lindsey said.

Bryant McIntosh, the team's points and assists leader, shared the sentiment about the impact of waiting for the official announcement.

"I think they were trying to give us a heart attack, just having us wait that long," McIntosh said.

Congrats to Northwestern's players, coaches, fans and alumni! Here's to hopefully many more Selection Sunday celebrations.


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