Football and basketball get a lot of coverage at Northwestern. However, as many avid Wildcats fans would tell you, those two sports are not and never have been the best sports on campus. Every week, I am going to let you, the casual Northwestern sports fan, in on all the fun that happens outside the confines of majestic Ryan Field and the illustrious Allstate Arena. Go (lesser-known) ‘Cats.
Did you know that Northwestern beat Michigan State in three overtimes on Saturday? Of course you did.
But did you know that two Northwestern fall sports teams are already in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament in their respective sports? No? Well, WNUR Sports is here to tell you which teams did so and break it all down for you.
But first, a look at teams whose conference tournaments have not started yet.
The volleyball team split its matches last week, sweeping Rutgers 3-0 at Evanston Township High School and receiving the opposite result at the hands of the No. 7 Wisconsin Badgers in Madison.
The ‘Cats have eight matches left in the 2017 season, but all eight will come against teams in the top 40 of the RPI nationally, including five of the eight matches against top-13 RPI teams. Northwestern is still above .500 overall (13-11), but a vicious conference schedule has the team at 3-9 in Big Ten play.
Last week, Northwestern got three points against cross-town rival Loyola on Wednesday and then dropped its final Big Ten match to Penn State on Sunday. As much as the win against Loyola gave NU some bragging rights, it didn’t help the team in the conference standings, as the loss to Penn State dropped the ‘Cats to 8th out of the nine Big Ten teams.
With the 8th place finish, Northwestern will have to play in the 8-9 play-in game in the Big Ten tournament against Rutgers on Saturday. Northwestern beat the Scarlet Knights 3-0 on Oct. 15. If Northwestern wins that first round game, it would take on regular season champion Michigan in the quarterfinals on Sunday.
Now, for the fun stuff! The field hockey team already won its quarterfinal at Lakeside Field on Sunday by a score of 4-3 over Rutgers thanks, in part, to a pair of goals by Pascale Massey. The win set up a matchup this Friday with No. 1 seed Michigan (ranked No. 3 overall in the country) in the semifinals.
Northwestern has played Michigan once this season. The matchup came just 10 days ago (Oct. 20), with Michigan fighting off a strong defensive effort by the ‘Cats to win 1-0 in Ann Arbor. The gameplan will need to be similar for Northwestern: hold the Wolverines (who scored the most goals of any Big Ten team this season) to a limited offensive output, and try to sneak one or two goals past them to pull off the upset.
The game will be broadcast on Big Ten Network at 10 a.m. CT on Friday. You can see the tournament bracket here.
The ‘Cats finished the season last Wednesday with a 1-0 win over Michigan State, and with some help from other teams losing, secured the No. 2 seed in the Big Ten tournament. The resulting quarterfinal home game came against Purdue on Sunday, when NU won 1-0 to send the Boilermakers packing thanks to a late goal from Michelle Chernesky. You can hear the highlights from WNUR Sports’ broadcast here.
Northwestern’s semifinal matchup will come on Friday at 2:30pm CT against No. 6 seed Wisconsin, who beat Minnesota 2-0 in their No. 3-No. 6 matchup on Sunday. Northwestern beat Wisconsin by a score of 2-0 on Oct. 15, and will be a favorite to advance to the final on Sunday. You can see the tournament bracket here.
WNUR Sports will have live broadcasts of the ‘Cats run in the Big Ten tournament on Friday, and, if necessary, on Sunday via our Mixlr page. Stay tuned to wnursports.com and WNUR Sports’ Twitter account for updates on those broadcasts.