It was embarrassing, unfathomable and it might have cost Northwestern a legitimate shot at a home NIT game. The Wildcats continued their late-season slide with a 79-60 loss at Penn State. Northwestern allowed 49 first half points and never challenged in the second.
Michael Thompson (left) led Northwestern with 21 points. He was the only Wildcat in double figures.
The fact is that the Wildcats apparently can't beat the Nittany Lions. In fact, I'm pretty sure Northwestern hasn't beaten Penn State since February 10, 2007.
With the loss the Wildcats now have no chance of finishing .500 in conference play. They're looking at 8-10 in conference if they can beat Indiana on the final day of the Big Ten regular season.
Bill Carmody's team has to be crossing their fingers that they don't see the Nittany Lions in Indianapolis. Penn State just seems to have a way of making Northwestern look silly on defense. In the last contest the Nittany Lions scored 81 points in 66 possessions. Sunday's effort wasn't any better. No matter who was on the court, the Wildcats just couldn't stop anyone.
Northwestern will have to hope they avoid Penn State in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. The three first round games are: 8/9, 7/10, 6/11. And the bottom of the Big Ten standings are:
6. Minnesota - 8-8
7. Northwestern - 7-10
8. Michigan - 6-10
9. Iowa - 3-12
10. Indiana - 3-12
11. Penn State - 3-13
And here are the projected standings from Ken Pomeroy:
6. Minnesota - 10-8
7. Northwestern - 8-10
8. Michigan - 7-11
9. Iowa - 4-14
10. Indiana - 4-14
11. Penn State - 3-15
In this scenario it would be (mercifully) Minnesota vs. Penn State, Northwestern vs. Indiana and Michigan vs. Iowa. Pending the final regular season game in Bloomington, this appears to be the ideal scenario for the Wildcats. A slumping Indiana team would be a great first round match-up.
We'll see what the future holds, but right now the Wildcats are just glad they won't see the Nittany Lions again.