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If UW Can Avoid NIT Blues vs. Northwestern, It Should Roll

The NIT is a funny thing. Completely obliterated by the shadow of the gargantuan NCAA tournament occurring at the same time, the once-proud tournament shuffles along quietly, the lone excuse given is that it allows teams to get extra practices and games in to help with next season.

For the players, however, the NIT is an exercise in futility. No one really cares about it. Unless you are a team that has been cast adrift in a sea of hoops failure and the NIT is a small island of success, you aren’t excited about playing in a second-rate tournament.

That is evidenced by the apathy from the fans and players themselves. Washington, chock-full of talent, with through the motions in its opener against UT-Arlington, with a half-empty arena struggling to find something to cheer about after the Huskies had been jobbed out of the NCAAs.
Now, they face my alma mater, Northwestern, in tonight’s second-round matchup, a game that only alums and die-hards even know is actually taking place amid the larger March Madness.

Trust me, as a grad of Northwestern, I know what it’s like to be in that proverbial sea of despair. We were so starved for any glint of basketball success that when we made the NIT my sophomore season, I actually camped out to get a pair of tickets. Now, even Northwestern fans are sick of being here – I’m sure you’ve seen the student reading in the stands during our NIT opener against Akron, which was also played in a half-full gym.

I’m also a little bitter that for the second year in a row, Northwestern, which never even sniffed the Pacific Northwest during my 11 years of residence there, is playing in Washington. Last year, WSU clipped the Cats in the NIT quarters and this year, I expect the Huskies to do the same.

UW is too talented to be here and has way better athletes than Northwestern. In theory, it shouldn’t even be a game, but the NIT blahs – and the Wildcats unorthodox 1-3-1 defense – will make it closer than it should be.

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