Northwestern has never made the NCAA Tournament and it might have to wait at least one more year to reach the promised land.
The Wildcats (18-13, 8-10 Big Ten) suffered a devastating 75-68 lost at the hands of Minnesota in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Thursday that puts their tournament hopes squarely in doubt. ESPN bracket expert Joe Lunardi had Northwestern among his last four teams in the field of 68 before the loss in his most recent edition of Bracketology. That's the right side of the bubble, but barely. This loss could drop the 'cats in the pecking order and leave them at the mercy of the committee as Selection Sunday draws near.
JerShon Cobb was the big scorer for Northwestern in the loss, putting up 24 points on 8-12 shooting from the field to go with eight rebounds. John Shurna was the only other double-figure scorer for coach Bill Carmody's squad, finishing with 21 points on 7-16 shooting.
Andre Hollins carried the Golden Gophers (19-13, 6-12 Big Ten) with 25 points on 10-17 shooting. Austin Hollins and Rodney Williams had 12 points each and Julian Welch added 11 off the bench.
Northwestern held a 61-59 lead as late as the final minute but an Andre Hollins layup following a Dave Sobolewski turnover tied the score at 61 and forced overtime. In the extra session, Minnesota took over offensively, closing the game on a 14-7 run.
The Gophers now advance to take on No. 2 seed Michigan on Friday evening.
For more on the 2012 Big Ten Tournament, head over to the SB Nation blog BT Powerhouse.