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Monday, March 5, 2012
Bill Carmody confident in Wildcats

By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com

Northwestern may be desperate to get into its first NCAA tournament, but coach Bill Carmody said Monday he won't go out and plead his team's case.

"I'm not going to lobby for anything," Carmody said. "The stats are out there ... I would just say we have our case, this is our body of work and let the committee do what they're appointed to do."

The stats right now say Northwestern is an NCAA tournament bubble team at 18-12 overall and 8-10 in the Big Ten. ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi has the Wildcats among the final four teams making the tournament.

Northwestern is ranked No. 44 in the RPI and has gone 1-8 against top-25 RPI teams and 2-1 against 25-50 RPI teams. The Wildcats' quality wins include Seton Hall on a neutral court, Michigan State at home and Illinois on the road. Seven of their eight Big Ten wins came against teams that finished eighth or worse in the standings.

The Wildcats' NCAA tournament fate likely will be determined by their Big Ten tournament play. Northwestern faces Minnesota on Thursday and would play Michigan in the quarterfinals on Friday.

The Wildcats need at least one win to stay on the bubble, and two wins would nearly guarantee them their first NCAA tournament appearance. Northwestern has never won consecutive Big Ten tournament games since the tournament's inception in 1998. The Wildcats are 6-14 overall and 5-11 under Carmody in the Big Ten tournament.

Carmody is confident about his team heading into the tournament.

"I think we can beat anybody," Carmody said. "We just lost to Ohio State at the buzzer. We lost to Purdue at the buzzer. We lost some tough games. I've been saying this for the last five weeks -- we've been playing pretty good basketball. Not perfect or anything; we lost some and won some, but we're playing pretty well. We can certainly play whatever the matchups are."

Carmody believes it is anyone's tournament.

"In years past, you would say these two teams (were the favorites) and maybe some surprises here or there," Carmody said. "This year, I really wouldn't know what to say. Anybody can beat anybody. It's not just like the third-seed team can be the first or second. I think all the way up and down there can be some pretty big upsets. They might be considered major upsets because they're solid teams.

"I don't know what to say about that, but it's going to be a fun tournament."

Scott Powers covers high school and college sports for ESPNChicago.com and can be reached at spowers@espnchicago.com.