This is something I probably should have mentioned in this morning's Morning After, but I'll admit it: I forgot. I'm sorry. Sometimes my brain doesn't want to work in the mornings. I blame college basketball for being on so late at night. It's not my fault! (Note: It's definitely my fault. I need to stop replacing sleep with Red Bull.)
Anyway, Tuesday night served up our latest dose of what seems to be turning into a year-long will-Northwestern-make-the-NCAA-tournament-or-not watch. This latest helping was the Wildcats' chance to build on Saturday's success, which saw them notch an unlikely win over then-No. 6 Purdue at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Facing an Evan Turner-fortified Ohio State in Columbus, how would Northwestern react? Would it use whatever momentum, whether real or perceived, and overcome a difficult Big Ten road task on the way to a résumé win? Or would it fall flat?
From the opening tip, Northwestern was never within striking distance of the Buckeyes. The Wildcats shot 4-of-22 in the first half, scoring 17 points in 20 minutes of abysmal offensive basketball. Meanwhile, OSU posted a tidy 40 in their first 20 minutes. Northwestern started shooting a little bit better in the second half, but it didn't matter; Turner scored 20 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, and dropped eight assists as the Buckeyes rolled to a 20-point win.
Of course, it's not a problem that Northwestern lost in Columbus. Plenty of teams have done this before; plenty will do it after. It's the manner in which Northwestern lost -- 4-of-22! -- that will make it all the more difficult for Wildcats fans to swallow. Beating Purdue at home is great. It's a fantastic win. But it's not enough. Northwestern has to prove it's at least semi-capable on the road*, or the selection committee will have an even tougher time ending NU's historic run of NCAA tourney failure.
* (Fortunately, that win at Michigan looks a little better after the Wolverines knocked off an admittedly flagging UConn team in Ann Arbor. But you get the idea.)