In the same evening in which No. 2 seeds Missouri and Duke fell in the second round of the 2012 NCAA tournament, March Madness snub Washington came away with a big win in the 2012 NIT.
The Washington Huskies (23-10) beat the Northwestern Wildcats (19-14), 76-55, in the NIT second round game. Northwestern had previously beaten AP ranked then-No. 6 Michigan State, 81-74, back in January.
While trailing Northwestern by eight points for a while in the first half, Washington regained the lead to end the half up 39-32. From that point on, the Huskies never looked back. The Huskies scored an additional 37 points in the second half compared to Northwestern’s 23 points.
The game was the eighth meeting between the two programs; with Washington now leading the series over Northwestern with a 6-2 win-loss record.
Washington’s Terrence Ross scored a career-high of 32 points in the game, followed by C.J. Wilcox with 20 points.
The Huskies now advance to the NIT quarterfinals on Tuesday where they’ll host the winner of the Oregon-Iowa game taking place on Sunday.
Oregon (23-9) finished the regular season tied with Cal for second in the Pac-12 behind Washington. Cal received an NCAA tournament at-large bid, and lost to South Florida in the first round of the tournament. Iowa (18-16) finished the regular season tied for seventh with Northwestern in the Big Ten.
If the Huskies can get past the quarterfinals they’ll be making a return trip to Madison Square Garden for the NIT semifinals on March 27.
The Huskies were last in the New York arena for the 2011 Jimmy V Classic in December. Washington lost to both then-No. 11 Marquette, 79-77, and then-No. 7 Duke, 86-80 at the event.
If Washington’s performance looked still somewhat questionable during their 82-72 NIT first-round win over Texas-Arlington, the Huskies eroded any doubts with Friday’s defeat of Northwestern.
Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar played in the NIT for the Huskies back in 1980. That year, the Huskies lost to UNLV in the opening game. In a somewhat fitting twist, UNLV lost to Pac-12 member Colorado in their opening game of the 2012 NCAA tournament.
Colorado won the 2012 Pac-12 tournament and the conference's automatic NCAA tournament bid. The Buffaloes are the only remaining Pac-12 representative in the Big Dance, where they next face the No. 3-seed Baylor Bears in the round of 32.
What would have been Washington's fate in what is quickly proving to be a wild NCAA tournament will never be known.
But each win in the 2012 NIT is a chance for Washington to keep playing, and to bring some sort of closure to a season in which both the players and fans of this regular-season Pac-12 champion team can feel proud.