EVANSTON, Ill. - Northwestern has never been invited to the Big Dance.
This year could be different, though.
The Wildcats are already 12-3 with some impressive non-conference wins over Texas, Wake Forest and Dayton.
They're not swimming in uncharted waters. In fact, they were 13-2 through 15 games last year.
However, unlike last year, the Big Ten appears to be wide open.
Michigan State and Nebraska are currently leading the way at 2-0.
But the Spartans have had their fair share of struggles, losing to the likes of Northeastern in East Lansing and barely surviving an overtime thriller against a Minnesota team that finished 8-23 a year ago.
"I think what you're seeing is really there's just a lot of good teams," remarked Northwestern head coach Chris Collins. "There is no upper, middle or bottom. You just got to play every game in front of you. There are probably a lot of games where you're like, 'Man there's no way that team...' Well yeah, they did. They can win on the road. They can beat that team. It just shows - and we talk about it as a team - you got to play every night."
The Wildcats host their first conference opponent this Thursday, when the Minnesota Golden Gophers come to town.