Northwestern holding out hope

Updated: March 8, 2012, 9:31 PM ET
By Scott Powers | ESPNChicago.com

INDIANAPOLIS -- Northwestern coach Bill Carmody said he didn't believe his team was eliminated from a chance to play in the NCAA tournament after losing to Minnesota in the first round of the Big Ten tournament on Thursday.

Northwestern was considered among the final four teams in the NCAA tournament by ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi prior to the game. Lunardi believed the Wildcats were out after the loss.

Northwestern has never been to the NCAA tournament.

"Like I told the guys before the game or sometime, if we win tonight, it doesn't mean we're in; if you lose tonight, it doesn't mean you're out," Carmody said. " And that's what I think. It's a body of work. It used to be something where if you're on a hot streak that was more important than December games. They say now that's not true, so we'll put our résumé out there and see where it goes."

Northwestern fell to 18-13 overall with the 75-68 overtime loss to Minnesota. It's 1-10 against top-50 RPI teams. Its quality wins include Seton Hall on a neutral court, Michigan State at home and Illinois and Iowa on the road.

The Wildcats have had numerous close calls in improving their record. They lost three Big Ten games in overtime this season and had five conference games decided by five points or less.

"It's hard," Carmody said of the close games. "It's disappointing. It's tough. We'll come back."

Wildcats senior John Shurna, the school's all-time leading scorer, also remained hopeful for a NCAA tournament bid.

"Yeah, it's obviously disappointing," Shurna said. "You want to come to the big tournament and stay as long as you can. This is one game on our résumé. Unfortunately, it didn't go our way. I think we just got to look at it as we'll put up our entire résumé against other teams and see how it plays out Sunday.

Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.

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