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Northwestern Likely Seals NCAA Tournament Bid on Insane Buzzer-Beater

Northwestern beat Michigan to reach 21 wins for the first time ever, and likely secured an NCAA tournament berth.

Sean Newell

It's hard to know exactly how big a deal this is because so many members of the media and the people I follow on Twitter attended Northwestern, and there is always the looming specter of the dreaded echo chamber, but the Wildcats definitely made some history Wednesday night.

First things first, thanks to Nathan Taphorn's full-court inbounds pass, and Dererk Pardon's catch and quick bucket, Northwestern beat Michigan 67-65 and, for the first time ever, won 21 games in a season. Second things second, Northwestern almost surely punched a ticket to the NCAA tournament; if their name is called out on Selection Sunday, it will be the first time in the school's history. They were on the bubble, but they were also losers of five of their last seven, so this win was a big one.

Northwestern head coach Chris Collins, son of former coach and current ESPN analyst Doug Collins, was beside himself after the game, saying he felt like "Jimmy V in '83," a reference to Jim Valvano's NC State team pulling off a miracle win in the NCAA tournament with an accidental alley-oop that sent Valvano running around the court like a chicken with its head cut off.

"I was looking around, I didn't have anyone to hug. ...I was looking for my family because it was a (pauses) special moment," said Collins, choked up and emotional. "It was surreal the way it happened. It's almost kind of fitting when you're trying to do something really hard. It takes exceptional things. ...There's always some luck involved. Guys got in the right spots. And Nate threw a great pass. Don't the (Chicago) Bears need a quarterback."

Collins took over the Northwestern program in 2013 and has slowly been building it into a respectable outfit—so much so that before this season even began, he predicted the Chicago Cubs would win the World Series (he's a big fan) and that Northwestern would make it to their first NCAA tournament (guessing he's also a big fan, here).

Doug Collins was busy calling the Bulls-Celtics game (which was great, by the way) as his son made history, but they still got a chance to briefly talk about it. It's hard to tell for sure, since ESPN cut away from Collins, but it sure sounds like he gets a little choked up talking about how proud he is of his son.

Daaawwww, go sports!