March 1, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Washington Huskies guard C.J. Wilcox (23) moves the ball against the Southern California Trojans during the first half at Galen Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

2012 NIT: Washington beats Northwestern


Seriously people, why did Cal get into the NCAA Tournament over Washington? The Huskies have more talent, had the better conference record, and the only edge Cal has is better efficiency numbers. People say that Washington fell apart at the end, but they actually heated up before that disappointing loss against Oregon State. They are out for vengeance, and Abdul Gaddy is already calling for the Oregon Ducks after the Huskies shredded Northwestern 76-55. It was absolute demolition that was directed by three, maybe four, future NBA players. The Huskies will look to avenge the last debacle in Eugene, provided Oregon takes down Iowa tomorrow.

Here’s the thing about the whole Cal and Washington argument. Cal was terrible at the end of the season, I mean, they were a train wreck. Jorge Gutierrez is overrated, and the team’s top 25 efficiency numbers were based off of the beginning of the conference season before the team’s in the conference finally started to heat up. When push came to shove, they collapsed and were deservingly fried by a better USF club in the play-in game. The Golden Bears embarrassed our conference, and Colorado’s victory over UNLV protected us from a full-out slaughter in the NCAA Tournament. Washington is for real, and they are the favorites to win the NIT. Just look at what they did to Northwestern.

Drew Crawford is a a good swingman who is capable of putting up points and playing efficient basketball. The Huskies athletic defense held Crawford to just 5 points and turned a hot-shooting Wildcats team into a cold 35.3% shooting team. Northwestern was dominated on the boards 42-24 by a more energized and better Huskies squad, and Washington even put in a 42.9% performance.

Northwestern’s vaunted offense fell flat against a team that was so much better, and the Huskies athleticism came to the forefront on offense. Tony Wroten did the smart thing, realized he wasn’t hitting shots, and he stayed back and became a facilitator for team star Terrence Ross and the underrated C.J. Wilcox off the bench. Before this game, I highlighted Ross as a huge mismatch for the Wildcats, and I stated that Wroten needed to get the ball to Wilcox and give their best shooter more shots. He obliged, and the Huskies just steamrolled Northwestern because of it.

Terrence Ross was huge, and he showed that he can go toe-to-toe with John Shurna and beat him. The future first-round draft pick went absolutely nuts and scored 32 points with eight rebounds and just one turnover. Wroten went 1-5, but he had seven assists and eight rebounds. Five of them were on the offensive glass, and he even had two blocks in a hustle game. The five turnovers aren’t good, and he and fellow guard Abdul Gaddy had five TOs with seven assists each.

Although Reggie Hearn supplied four blocks in an uncharacteristically solid effort on defense, Hearn was terrible on offense. He went a paltry 3-11 and missed all of his three point attempts in another subpar game. Not even Shurna could overcome the poor play from the rest of the team, even though he had 24 points on 5-7 three-point shooting in another terrific performance. Guard Alex Marcotullio was the only other Wildcat who scored in double-digits, and he submitted 11 points on 4-6 shooting (3-4 from downtown) in 20 minutes of play. Shurna had one block, four steals, and six assists in a very strong game, while Marcotullio added three steals for Northwestern.

C.J. Wilcox is one of my favorite players in the Pac-12, because he is an efficient scorer who gets pushed back on a roster full of stars. Wilcox is a talented player in his own right and can put points on the board, and he showed it by going for 20 on 7-13 shooting with six rebounds. He played in just 25 minutes, but he made it worth it with a 4-9 mark from beyond the arc.

The Washington Huskies were the better team and showed why they are the NIT favorites right now. Ross is dominating, Aziz N’Diaye is playing quality basketball, Tony Wroten has finally found his role, Abdul Gaddy is doing the little things, and C.J. Wilcox is getting the reps to show what he can do. Washington absolutely killed Northwestern, and holding a great offensive team to just 55 points does wonders for your confidence. Washington has the swagger, and they will be waiting for Oregon.

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Tags: Abdul Gaddy Alex Marcotullio Aziz N'Diaye Basketball C.J. Wilcox California Golden Bears Drew Crawford Iowa John Shurna Jorge Gutierrez NIT Northwestern Oregon State Beavers Reggie Hearn Terrence Ross Tony Wroten UNLV USF Washington Huskies