Welcome to the NCAA tournament, Northwestern. It’s been a long time coming.


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The Wildcats earned the No. 8 seed in the West region Selection Sunday and will square off against Vanderbilt in the first NCAA tournament game in school history. Here’s what you need to know about Chicago’s Big Ten team.


-The Wildcats have been ranked in the AP Top 25 at some point during five seasons in program history, including this one. The years: 2016-17, 2009-10, 1968-69, 1958-59 and 1954-55.
-Northwestern highest AP Poll ranking? That would be sixth; it happened in 1958-59.
-Before 2015-16, Bill Carmody was the only coach to lead the Wildcats to a 20-win season. Northwestern reached the feat in 2009-10 and 2010-11.

2017 March Madness Final Four Schedule

National Championship Game Monday, April 3

Live stream link to National Championship game Time (ET) Network
Gonzaga vs. North Carolina  9 p.m. CBS


What’s changed

-Northwestern hired Chris Collins in 2013. After a few rebuilding years, Collins has been remarkable as of late – the Wildcats are 43-23 (.652) in the past two seasons. Before 2015-16, the last time Northwestern won at least 60 percent of its games was 1958-59. Collins is two for his last two.

The son of three-time NBA All-Star Doug Collins, Chris played under Mike Krzyzewski and was an assistant coach at Duke for 13 years. The 42 year old is 72-58 as a head coach.

BRACKET: Meet the field of 68

This year’s team

Leading scorer: Junior point guard Bryant McIntosh averages 14.4 points for the Cats; he’s also their leading assist man. McIntosh’s scoring has improved each year in Evanston, but he’s shooting a career-low 39.8 percent from this floor this season.

Leading rebounder: Dererk Pardon, who will forever be remembered by this:

But he’s done an exceptional job manning the interior in general. Pardon averages eight rebounds and 1.9 blocks, both tops on Northwestern by a mile. Opponents score 96.3 points per 100 possessions with Pardon on the floor, which leads all Wildcat regulars.

Best athletes: The biggest difference between this Northwestern outfit and past teams: the Wildcats have length and explosion on the wings in the form of Scottie Lindsey and Vic Law. Each average more than 12 points and a steal per night; Lindsey and Law are solid defensive players that can switch defensive assignments on the fly.

Key wins

Dec. 17: vs. Dayton (67-64)
Feb 12: at Wisconsin (66-59)
March 1: vs. Michigan (67-65)
March 10: vs. Maryland (72-64)

Northwestern has some high-profile fans and alums, and as you’d expect, they were pumped about the Wildcats' tourney berth:

Congratulations to the Wildcats. We’ll see if they can make some noise in the Big Dance.

Joe Boozell has been a college basketball writer for NCAA.com since 2015. His work has also appeared in Bleacher Report, FOXSports.com and NBA.com. Joe’s claim to fame since joining NCAA.com: he’s predicted the correct national championship game twice… and picked the wrong winner both times. Growing up, Joe squared off against both Anthony Davis and Frank Kaminsky in the Chicagoland basketball scene. You can imagine how that went.

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