I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but once again Northwestern took a high-rated team to the wire, but couldn’t win. In a way this was the best of those efforts because Northwestern never led in the game and therefore they showed great effort in coming back to tie the game, but I just can’t get over the end result was again a loss in the final seconds. I will say that like Robbie Hummel of Purdue, I thought Jared Sullinger’s game winner was a very tough shot. I also thought that though it was obviously desperation that John Shurna got a better look with a chance to win than he did in the Purdue game.
In a way this game kind of sums of Northwestern to this point. John Shurna was great, Drew Crawford was really good (but is still way too much of a head case as once he missed his first free throw he couldn’t make any), but the rest of the team didn’t really produce enough to be serious threats and the defense and especially rebounding was subpar. If you consider the first part of the game where NU just couldn’t stop Ohio State while trying to play man-to-man defense or the number of rebound baskets the Buckeyes had during the course of the game you realize Northwestern was basically one play away from actually having the lead at the end of the game. Not to say Ohio State wouldn’t have won in overtime, but it was that close. When you factor in the missed free throws you then realize that Northwestern could have actually had a solid lead late.
I guess the end result has to be this, credit Northwestern for not giving up in this game or this season. Hopefully, they’ll be able to beat Iowa at Iowa on Saturday because I hardly think they can be penalized for this loss. If the ‘Cats win at Iowa I think they still have a very legitimate case for the NCAA Tournament. It might not happen, but at least they’ll have a reason to watch the show on Selection Sunday. We also can’t discount the Big Ten Tournament when we consider that Northwestern beat #1 seed Michigan State and had great chances to beat #2 Ohio State and #3 Michigan. I’d also say that though nobody wants to think this way, if Northwestern is relegated to the NIT, they’re probably the #1-seed in that tournament which does give them a great chance to win that event as long as the players refocus and realize that they’ve still got basketball to play.
Lastly, I'm not going to place this loss on the officals when we couldn't hit a free throw or rebound, but in the last few moments of the game I thought Aaron Craft travled before passing to Thomas for a three, I thought Shurna was fouled on a drive, and I can't believe they allowed Jared Sullinger to just toss the ball over his head to the fans without him getting a T.