Becht: Why Northwestern might be this year’s VCU

Colin Becht

The title of this column is not a reference to Virginia Commonwealth’s surprise run to the Final Four last year. As the Northwestern men’s basketball team has illustrated time and time again, it does not have the mental fortitude to survive in the close games necessary to make a lengthy postseason run.

I compare NU to Virginia Commonwealth because, like the Rams, the Wildcats might be the shocker announced in the field of 68 of the NCAA Tournament. Before Virginia Commonwealth silenced all doubters by winning five games on the tournament to reach the Final Four, it was widely panned as the least deserving invitee to the Big Dance. NU might find itself in a similar position when the Selection Committee announces its bracket on Sunday.

The best argument against the Cats making the NCAA Tournament is, “The guy on the TV told me they wouldn’t make it.” And indeed that statement true. ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi does not even consider NU to be on the bubble anymore.

However, it’s important to remember Lunardi is no more a member of the Selection Committee than I am – not to mention I don’t believe his degree in bracketology comes from an accredited institution of higher learning.

But Lunardi was right about one thing. “Rule No. 1 when you’re on the bubble: Don’t lose,” he wrote after NU lost to Minnesota on Thursday. That is indeed true.

But when so many teams on the bubble lose and when the bubble is so weak, at what point does a loss become negligible? When comparing the Cats’ tournament