By Paul M. Banks
Northwestern hosts its first National Invitation Tournament (NIT) game since 1994 Wednesday as the #4 seed Wildcats take on Milwaukee at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Tip is 7 p.m.
Milwaukee, the Horizon League regular season champ, fell to the
Butler Bulldogs in the HL conference tourney, and were denied a NCAA
Tournament bid. They are 19-13 overall, 13-5 in conference. The Panthers
won nine of their last 10 regular-season game, had a double bye in the
conference tourney, then defeated Valparaiso in the semifinal before
falling to Brad Stevens and company.
NU (18-13, 7-11 Big Ten) is making its school-record third
consecutive postseason appearance. The Wildcats defeated the #9 seed
Minnesota Golden Gophers in the opening round of the Big Ten tournament before dropping an overtime heartbreaker to No. 1 Ohio State Buckeyes in the quarterfinals.Senior point guard Juice Thompson scored a career high (and Big Ten Tournament record) 35 in the BTT opener.
The winner of Wednesday's contest advances to take on the winner of
the game between #1 seeded Boston College and #8 seed McNeese State.
This will be the sixth NIT appearance for Northwestern. The last time
the Wildcats hosted an NIT game was March 16, 1994 when it defeated DePaul 69-68. Northwestern won the only previous meeting with UWM 80-44 Dec. 14, 1998 in Evanston.
The Wildcats have dropped a first-round contest in the NIT each of the last two years. Northwestern fell 68-59 at Tulsa in 2009 before being defeated 76-64 at Rhode Island a year ago. NU is 2-5 all time in the NIT. Their other win was over Notre Dame in 1983
Senior forward Anthony Hill leads Milwaukee with averages of 15.5 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. Senior guard Tone Boyle contributes 13.1 points per contest.Rob Jeter, the 2011 Horizon League Coach of the Year, has a 101-88 record in six seasons as the head coach at Milwaukee. He was previously an assistant coach under Bo Ryan at Wisconsin.
Written by Paul M. Banks, President and CEO of The Sports Bank.net, a Midwest webzine. He's also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, the Tribune's blog network, Walter Football, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports
You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank