As I've mentioned throughout the season, going into this year Northwestern was the only major college team not to ever be selected to play in the post-season NCAA basketball tournament. It was a streak of 78 years. And on Sunday night, when the 68 teams were announced who made it into what's become known as "The Big Dance" -- Northwestern was actually selected!!!
(Note: if you don't care to read about sports, do at least jump down to the story that begins after the video below, and the check out the accompanying tweet and video embedded with it. It's a hoot.)
By the way, this wasn't only of interest just to us NU folks, but a question all year to the national college basketball world, and one the season's storylines, right down until when it was made official. Indeed, on ESPN's Announcement Show, they intentionally withheld naming Northwestern until the very end, delaying it for the final group, while hyping the question throughout the show about if Northwestern would make it, in order to build up the drama. (This isn't a guess on my part, although it was my presumption as things dragged on. When their announcer later in the broadcast was interviewing the NU coach Chris Collins, he "apologized" for the long, hellish delay, in finally naming Northwestern, saying that host Greg Gumbel specifically made the decision to put the school in the last group.)
Here's what I mean -- shortly after writing this piece, a friend of mine (who didn't go to Northwestern) called me to say that he got a phone call from his brother (who's a big college basketball fan but also didn't go to Northwestern) just to tell him excitedly that Northwestern had finally been selected into the NCAA post-season tournament. There was absolutely no NU connection -- his brother just thought it was cool news.
How big a deal was the occasion yesterday? Usually, just the players and a few supporters show up to wait for the announcement. In Evanston, there were almost 2,000 fans at Welsh-Ryan Arena, on the edge of their seats in anticipation. Here's what it was like there when the announcement was made --
There's one other very funny tweet and video to post. This comes from the mother of one of the Northwestern players, Charlie Hall. He's a walk-on player, not scholarship, and hasn't played much during the season, but by all accounts he's an incredibly hard worker and much-liked by his teammates. His father is Brad Hall, a TV producer and writer (who I remember chatting with when we picketed during the last WGA strike) who was a cast member of Saturday Night Live and a Northwestern grad, and his mother is another Northwestern grad with her own credits, Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
(During the recent Big Ten tournament, the TV coverage kept cutting to show them in the crowd during the game, especially when their son Charlie got in the game at the end...and he got two rebounds, and there were a couple of very proud parents.)
Anyway, now that Northwestern has been selected into the post-season tourney -- known, as I mentioned, as "The Big Dance," -- Julia sent out an utterly spot-on perfect tweet and video to celebrate.