Admit it: at this point, this doesn't surprise you anymore. Right? OK, maybe you've seen enough NU basketball in your life to warrant being a bit surprised. One way or the other, in yet another situation in which history was anything but on their side, Northwestern men's basketball (23-10, 10-8 B1G) stunned a B1G oppenent, this time No. 25 Maryland (24-8, 12-6 B1G), on its way to a history-making win, 72-64.
Playing just eight miles from the Terrapins' College Park, Md., campus in Washington, D.C., the 'Cats pulled off the upset in front of a predominantly pro-Maryland crowd. There were several points tonight when it seemed that the Terps might pull away, riding their home crowd to an easy victory. But, as has been said more times than you can count this season, these aren't your father's Northwestern Wildcats.
There's an old adage that says basketball is a game of runs. Conventional wisdom holds that this is mostly true, but tonight, runs were basically all there were after the first nine minutes or so, when Maryland and Northwestern were deadlocked at 16. From that point, NU reeled off a 12-2 run and looked to be in control, leading 28-18 three minutes later. Of course, the Terps had a run of their own in them, and wound up taking a 36-34 lead to the locker room.
Maryland's run continued into the second half, as NU went without a field goal for about eight and a half minutes of gametime across the two halves. During that span, Maryland extended its lead to 44-34, and looked to be close to running away and hiding. But this was not the case.
After Bryant McIntosh broke NU's scoring drought with a three-pointer out of a broken down offensive set, the 'Cats outscored the Terps 20-2 over the next eight minutes to grab an eight-point lead, 54-46. They never trailed again.
The Terps got within three, but never any closer. NU held the virtual home team at arm's length for the remainder of the contest, and cruised to a berth in the B1G semifinals. Scottie Lindsey, who appears to finally back to his old self after a bout with mono, contributed 17 points, along with Vic Law. McIntosh pitched in with 16. When all three of those guys are in business, the 'Cats are a tough out, as Maryland discovered the hard way tonight.
Northwestern is already officially where no Northwestern team has gone before, and has a chance to go even farther. Winners of three of their last four dating back to the regular season, the 'Cats draw No. 24 Wisconsin tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. Should they win that, they would play the winner of Michigan vs. Minnesota in the B1G Championship the next day. Should they win that, their ticket to the Big Dance, already a certainty at this point, would be officially punched before their name is even called on Selection Sunday.
What a world we live in.