Northwestern Welcomes Sudden Underdog Indiana

Scandal in Bloomington reverses roles for Big Ten foes

Earlier today, we mentioned DePaul basketball. DePaul is, um, what's the word? Horrendous. Yes, that's it. But in the history of Chicago-area college basketball DePaul's struggles got nothin' on Northwestern, who in the 69 years the NCAA Tournament has existed have never qualified once. Not ... once. In a fickle sport like college basketball, where one game and one streak can be the difference between a championship and nothing at all, that's an astoundingly consistent record of failure.

Indiana, on the other hand, is one of college basketball's traditional powers, having hung five NCAA banners from its large echo-chamber of a gym in Bloomington, IN. When Indiana comes to face Northwestern in Evanston, usually, the Wildcats lose.

Not this year. Indiana is having its worst season in the history of the program, thanks to the discovery last year of its coach, Kelvin Sampson, and his issues with improper and illegal phone calls. While on probation, Sampson continued making extra calls; Indiana self-reported the violations, and the program blew up. In a bad way. Not, like, when your 14-year-old's cell phone rings. Players transferred, Sampson was fired, the school was punished, and when all was said and done Indiana returned with one scholarship player. The rest were walk-ons and transfers. The results have been as expected.

Northwestern, on the other hand, are still one of the Big Ten's lesser teams, but in a year when the conference might earn seven NCAA bids, that's not exactly an insult. At 10-7 the Wildcats have proven at least marginally capable. That's more than can be said for IU.

So tonight at Welsh-Ryan, Northwestern will likely experience a sensation it hasn't felt often in its completely unillistrious basketball-playing history: What it feels like to beat Indiana. It's not exactly an NCAA berth, but it'll do for now.

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