Men’s Basketball: Win over Ohio State solidifies Northwestern’s contender status

%28Daily+file+photo+by+Jacob+Morgan%29+Chris+Collins+yells+from+the+sideline.+The+coach+is+looking+to+lead+his+team+to+new+heights+in+2016-17.
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Men’s Basketball: Win over Ohio State solidifies Northwestern’s contender status

(Daily file photo by Jacob Morgan) Chris Collins yells from the sideline. The coach is looking to lead his team to new heights in 2016-17.

(Daily file photo by Jacob Morgan) Chris Collins yells from the sideline. The coach is looking to lead his team to new heights in 2016-17.

(Daily file photo by Jacob Morgan) Chris Collins yells from the sideline. The coach is looking to lead his team to new heights in 2016-17.

(Daily file photo by Jacob Morgan) Chris Collins yells from the sideline. The coach is looking to lead his team to new heights in 2016-17.

Garrett Jochnau, Sports Editor

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Men’s Basketball


Northwestern hadn’t won in Columbus since 1977.

But Sunday, the Wildcats ended that drought with a 74-72 victory over Ohio State, bringing NU one step closer to snapping its more notorious streak and earning the program’s first NCAA Tournament bid.

The Cats still have a ways to go before then, but the milestone victory illustrated an important reality about Chris Collins’ team: this NU team is ready to change the narrative.

“Be different, like we talk about in the locker room a lot,” sophomore center Dererk Pardon said. “Just be different.”

Now off to their first 5-2 start to conference play since the 1967-68 season, the Cats are turning heads.

And wins like Sunday’s, on the road against a beatable but still competitive middle-tier Big Ten team, are the type that NU needs to take advantage of consistently as it builds its resume for March. Early losses this year to Michigan State and Minnesota initially cast doubt on the team’s ability to emerge from a crowded middle of the pack, but a rout of Iowa seemingly put the Cats on the right track.

The victory over the Buckeyes confirmed that NU could take the next step, especially after last year’s similarly-winnable contest against Ohio State fell beyond its reach amid a late-game collapse.

“History doesn’t define us,” junior guard Scottie Lindsey said. “The past things that have happened with this program, that doesn’t really matter to this team.”

With the win, NU could find itself ranked for the first time since 2009, when it held the No. 25 ranking for a week, its first official recognition by the AP Poll since the 1968-69 season.

That alone shows the Cats are different. Thursday, they’ll have another opportunity to separate themselves from the middle tier when they host Nebraska before tackling a loaded back end of the schedule.

And while coach Chris Collins isn’t thinking about the tournament, saying, “March is an eternity away,” this year’s team is putting itself in position to finally snap the infamous streak, a feat they tackled on a smaller scale Sunday.

“It has been important to our guys to try to do things that haven’t been done,” Collins said. “You know, win in venues that teams haven’t won in before, or chase goals. That’s why we’re all in this together.”

Email: jochnau@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @GarrettJochnau

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