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    Wildcats Earn NIT Postseason Berth; Play Tulsa in First-Round Game

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Kevin Coble and the Wildcats play Tulsa in the first round of the 2009 NIT Tournament.
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM
    Kevin Coble and the Wildcats play Tulsa in the first round of the 2009 NIT Tournament.
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM

    March 15, 2009

    2009 NIT Bracket (PDF)

    EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern has earned its first postseason berth since 1999 after accepting a National Invitation Tournament bid Sunday night.

    The Wildcats (17-13), the No. 5 seed in their eight-team bracket, travel to Tulsa to face the fourth-seeded Golden Hurricane (24-10) at 8 p.m. CT on Wednesday, March 18 (ESPNU, WGN Radio). The winner will face the winner of Wednesday's contest between top-seeded Auburn and seventh-seeded Tennessee-Martin.

    The meeting will be the first ever between Northwestern and Tulsa. The teams have three common opponents this season. Both teams defeated Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at home with NU winning 66-48 and the Golden Hurricane earning a 66-43 victory. Tulsa lost to Illinois 48-44 at a neutral site in South Padre, Texas, while the Wildcats fell to the Fighting Illini at Welsh-Ryan Arena 60-59. Northwestern topped SMU 66-55 at home and Tulsa beat the Mustangs 64-55 at home and 74-64 in Dallas.

    Tulsa finished in second place in Conference USA this season with a 12-4 mark and fell to Memphis on the conference tournament championship game. The Golden Hurricane is coached by Doug Wojcik, a former assistant coach at Michigan State.

    The Wildcats are 2-3 all-time in NIT play, having participated in the tournament in 1983, 1994 and 1999.

    Tickets are on sale now through the University of Tulsa and are available online at www.tulsahurricane.com or by calling 918-631-GoTU (4688). Ticket prices are $10, $15, $20 and $25. The Northwestern bench will be in front of Section 106. Please feel free to contact the Wildcat Ticket Office at 847.491.CATS or cat-tix@northwestern.edu with any questions.

    Northwestern reaction quotes

    Northwestern head coach Bill Carmody

    On the importance of playing in the NIT...
    "Well we haven't been there in a while and we've only been there a few times in our history. I thought our team did enough this year to be able to continue to play, I thought we won enough games and played pretty consistently at a nice level, so I thought we deserved it."

    On Northwestern's immediate bracket...
    "I saw Auburn is playing Tennessee-Martin, who I know has a very talented kid. I know Tulsa a little bit and they're a very good team. They kill the boards. (Tulsa head coach) Doug Wojcik is someone I've known for a long time so he knows the way we play. He's a good guy and a very good coach."

    On if there is a sense of `What if' about NU's season...
    "No not at all, that was weeks ago. We're past that and we have to move forward. We're happy to be here. If you look at the brackets there are some terrific teams. I think since the NCAA took it over a few years ago it's much improved. They're seeding teams so there is a lot more structure and organization to how it's run."

    On NU's mindset since Thursday's loss in the Big Ten Tournament...
    "We took off Friday and did some generic practicing this weekend, lots of shooting and lifting while we wait and see. It's hard to get guys excited when you don't know who you're playing. We thought we'd be in and I was hoping we'd get a home game out of it but you have to go on the road eventually if you win some games."


    Senior guard Craig Moore
    On playing in the NIT...
    "It feels good to play extra games and play on a national stage like the NIT so it should be a lot of fun and hopefully we can get somewhere in the tournament. I think it shows the program is going in the right direction. It helps Coach Carmody recruit the type of players they feel they need to compete in the Big Ten. In the years to come I think there will be even more progression."

    On playing Tulsa...
    "I saw the game against Memphis but I don't know much about them. We'll come in this week and figure them out."

    On playing on the road...
    "It would have been nice for our fans to have a home game because they've been great all year for us and have one more game at Welsh-Ryan but it's fine. Going on the road and playing in places we never would have played in before is still exciting."


    Junior forward Kevin Coble
    On playing in the NIT...
    "I think it's great. Given where we're coming from you really can't look down at the NIT. I think these other teams take it for granted a little bit but for us it's a sense of external validation of the fact that everything we've been working on the past couple years is starting to pay off. Certainly we want to show we can win in the postseason and start building a case for next year."

    On playing Tulsa...
    "We're just going off what we saw in the Conference USA title game against Memphis and we got a sense of what they try to do but that's what practice will be about tomorrow. It fits in with the theme of this week being exams, we'll be cramming the early part of this week for Tulsa."