EVANSTON – The history books are being rewritten in Welsh-Ryan Arena as the days go along.
Bryant McIntosh is doing his best to help the cause as Northwestern’s solid start to the 2015-2016 season continues.
The senior guard tossed in 28 points on Tuesday night as the Wildcats beat Wisconsin 70-65 at home for a second-straight win and improve their conference record to 3-2. To find the last time that happened you would have to go all the way back to the 1968 season.
It’s odd to think a just over .500 record would be the best in 48 years for the program but success hasn’t been commonplace in a program that has yet to appear in the NCAA Tournament. But a win like Tuesday’s could certainly help the Wildcats’ hopes.
A team like the Badgers, who has a 9-9 record and is struggling after the early retirement of Bo Ryan, is one of those teams that Northwestern may need to beat out at the end of March to earn an at-large bid to the tournament. While it’s still quite early to start taking the Big Ten standings with too much concern, the Wildcats currently sit seventh in the league which is expected to get 6-to-8 bids to the “Big Dance.”
McIntosh did his best to help the Wildcats take a small step closer to that goal with his performance at Welsh-Ryan Arena, knocking down 10-of-19 shots from the field. Twenty of those points came in the second half and the majority of those came in the final 6:20 of the game when Northwestern finally started pulling away.
In that time McIntosh scored 13 points to break open what was a three-point game and keep the Wildcats the rest of the way. Sanjay Lumpkin and Aaron Falzon each added nine points in the winning effort.
Chris Collins’ 15-3 team now hosts Penn State on Saturday before their toughest stretch of the conference season. They’ll face No. 3 Maryland and No. 25 Indiana on the road next week before hosting fourth-ranked Michigan State on January 28th, then they follow that with a game at No. 16 Iowa to close out the month on the 31st.
Hence performances like McIntosh’s and wins like Tuesday are critical if the Wildcats want to put on their dancing shoes in mid-March.