Spread Far the Fame is reporting that Northwestern is going to be playing at Rhode Island in the first round on Wednesday. We're waiting here at Welsh-Ryan Arena for the television confirmation. If I see it on ESPNU I'll have quotes from all the involved parties ASAP.
"Especially for this team this year. We have one senior - Jeremy [Nash] -
and you have a lot of freshman, sophomores, juniors. So it's a young
team. So the more games you can play, the better," said Northwestern head coach Bill Carmody. "And the fact that
these guys like to play basketball."
Update: It is officially confirmed. Northwestern is a #7 seed playing at #2 Rhode Island. Honestly, this is the best possible scenario. The Wildcats sneaked into the NIT field and they should be commended for it. Wins over Purdue, Illinois and Notre Dame certainly paid off. My other guess, is seeing that N.C. State is a #6 seed in the NIT, that victory probably helped as well.
If the Wildcats were to win their first round game they'd play at the winner of Wichita State and Nevada.
For some context: Rhode Island is #73 in Pomeroy. Northwestern is #77. This should be an excellent game.
Another funny note. Illinois is also going on the road - even though they are a #1 seed - to Stony Brook because Cirque du Soleil's Alegria is playing at Assembly Hall this week.
The head coach is happy Northwestern is headed to the tournament.
"We won 20 games and we played in a very tough conference, had some good wins, and it wasn't unexpected," Carmody said. "It wasn't unexpected, but you're always on the edge of your seat."
Rhode Island - at first glance - seems to have some very similar attributes to the Wildcats. The Rams play at a moderate pace, but on a per possession basis they've had similar success to Northwestern. Both teams are very good at offense and not so good on defense. They struggle with offensive rebounding on the defensive end. Curiously, Rhode Island also appears to give up a lot of easy shots in general. Northwestern might find themselves with more open looks than the Wildcats did in Big Ten play.
A full analysis of the match-up to come of course.