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Northwestern: Not your typical Cinderella

For the first time in history, the Northwestern Wildcats are in the NCAA Tournament. The program that first played in 1901 was good for a few of their early years, but before the NCAA tournament was first introduced in 1939. Ever since they’ve been bad to mediocre at best. But that is changed now. Fourth-year head coach Chris Collins has achieved his goal of doing things that have never been done before in Evanston, Illinois. Mission Accomplished.

Certainly, Northwestern is very much a team entering this year’s NCAA Tournament as a darling program and sentimental favorite for many. But can we possibly think of Northwestern as a Cinderella kind of team?

Cinderellas in March are typically small schools from small conferences with limited money and resources, yet find a way to defy all of the odds that are stacked against them. Northwestern is anything but that kind of a school. Other than history, their lack of success for nearly a century had been more tied to just simple lack of performance and nothing else.

Northwestern is in the Big Ten, which gives them a massive leg up. They are a private school, which means they have an incredible amount of money (a $9.6 billion endowment) to work with. Maybe being the smallest University in the Big Ten with 21,000 students could work against them, but this is a team that is constantly in the national spotlight as many of the best sports writers in the country went to the Medill School of Journalism and regularly give the Wildcats shout outs.

This is not to say it’s not right to be happy and hopeful for the history-making Wildcats, but this more an admission that the Wildcats are not a team that only have sentimental hope to advance. The Wildcats are a strong and well-tested team that can get a win in this NCAA tournament.

The Wildcats went 10-7 during the regular season against Big Ten teams, picking up wins against Wisconsin and Michigan and in the Big Ten tournament advancing to the semifinals by beating a 25th-ranked Maryland team on what was essentially a home court for the Terps in Washington DC.

And the emotion of getting into the program’s first-ever NCAA Tournament can’t be measured. They know how hard it is to get to a NCAA Tournament, they aren’t going to take it for granted.

But the NCAA didn’t make things easy for the Wildcats. As a No. 8 seed, they have perhaps the toughest road possible. Immediately, they will play a toss-up game against Vanderbilt. The Commodores themselves made some history this year as the first team 15-loss team to ever be given an at-large but earned their way into the tournament with eight wins in their last 10 games, including a trip to the semifinals of the SEC tournament. They beat Florida, a No. 4 seed in the tournament, twice in that late-season run.

And if the Wildcats win, they will likely be greeted with a matchup against a No. 1 seed. Now (potentially) lucky for the Wildcats, the Gonzaga Bulldogs look like the worst of the No. 1 seeds, but they are still a tremendously talented team.

Still, who wants to sit here and count Northwestern out of anything? For all we know, this team of destiny could make a run to the Sweet 16 or even further. But you better be sure that this team that took 83 years to get to the NCAA Tournament, won’t make an easy and swift exit.

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

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