Thursday, March 16, 2017

Northwestern Opens Up NCAA Tourney Against Vandy

NCAA Tournament Northwestern

Northwestern 1st Trip is Against Gritty Vandy Team


The Vanderbilt Commodores and the Northwestern Wildcats meet in what should be a quality first-round matchup on Thursday when they battle at Vivint Smart Home Arena. The Wildcats finally broke through and earned their first-ever March Madness bid.

The rise from the Big Ten cellar to a contender is not a fluke for this Northwestern team. The Wildcats used great defense and timely offense to finish with a winning record in league play for the first time since 1968. They capped it off by advancing to the Big Ten tournament semifinal round.

Oddsmakers opened the Commodores as -4-point favorites versus the Wildcats, while the game's total opened at 131. Vanderbilt is now a 2-point favorite and the total is down to 130.

In their last action, Northwestern was a 76-48 loser in the Big-10 semifinals against the Wisconsin Badgers. They failed to cover the +4.5-point spread as underdogs. Northwestern has all the necessary tools to make a Cinderella run and disrupt more than a few brackets this postseason. It all starts with point guard Bryant McIntosh. He leads the team in both points, 14.4 ppg, and assists with 5.3 per game. McIntosh has scored 20-plus points 10 times this season. He has also dished out six-plus assists 12 times.

Vanderbilt was a 76-62 loser in SEC Tournament against the Arkansas Razorbacks. They failed to cover the -4-point spread as favorites. A brutal regular-season schedule and a strong finish put Vanderbilt into the tournament. The Commodores played the toughest non-conference schedule in the country. Vandy also won seven of their last nine down the stretch to lock up a second straight NCAA at-large bid.

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