If all goes well in the turnover department, the Eagles might find themselves in the second round once again.
The University of Northwestern Eagles find themselves in the NCAA tournament for the sixth year in a row. After defeating third ranked St. Thomas and Elmhurst to advance to the Sweet 16 a year ago, they look to play the spoiler once again. Last year’s host school of the first round, St. Norbert, will stand in their way first. Ahead of that matchup, these are three things to keep an eye on:
1. Court of Destiny
When the Eagles knocked off the third best team in the nation a season ago in St. Thomas, they did so on the very same court where they’ll play St. Norbert’s. Certainly the Eagles look forward to the familiarity where they also beat Elmhurst to move on to their first Sweet 16 ever. However, St. Norbert boasts one of the best home-court advantages in Division III, consistently packing in over a thousand fans into Schuldes Sports Center. Elmhurst was able to overcome that raucous crowd when they beat the Green Knights in triple overtime last year, and the Eagles will have to do the same.
2. Keep the train rolling
The Eagles are currently rolling behind two huge victories in the UMAC tournament to take the title once again. They ended the season with two consecutive losses to both Superior and Scholastica before rolling North Central and handling Scholastica in the title game. In the title game UNW was never trailing or tied- they lead for the entire 40 minutes. After some doubts they’d be able to make it back to the tournament, they laid Scholastica to rest and played their best basketball since mid-December. Senior Michael Carney is certainly confident for the game, based on this tweet:
3. Don’t play hot potato
Northwestern made a name for themselves nationally by beating St. Thomas last season, due to a Porter Morrell 3 point shot at the buzzer. However, the Eagles beat the third best team in DIII by holding on to the basketball. They only turned the ball over four times, while forcing the Tommies into 10. In what’s likely to be a close game against the Green Knights, the Eagles need every edge they can get against a great team in a hostile environment.