As the clock counted down near the end of Northwestern’s 80-60 blowout victory over Iowa on Sunday, a chant shook Welsh-Ryan Arena.
“Rank Northwestern!, Rank Northwestern!,” came the cry from the student sections behind each basket.
And apparently, the sportswriters and broadcasters who vote in the Associated Press Top 25 poll heard them, or, more likely, have been watching the Wildcats’ men’s team pulling off victory after victory, including the last five in a row. Those wins included an upset over then-#1-ranked Purdue, and also over another ranked team, Indiana.
Northwestern (20-7) is now rated #21, and a team which pre-season pundits had picked for second-to-last place in the Big Ten is now in second, and seems like a guaranteed lock to make the NCAA playoffs.
The ‘Cats have four regular season games remaining, along with the Big Ten championship tournament.
The first and only time NU made it into March Madness was in 2017, winning in the first round and then bowing out in the second.
Ironically, the first ever NCAA men’s basketball championship was held at Northwestern in 1939.