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Wild basketball weekend ahead: Four things to know

Northwestern begins Big Ten tournament play Friday, with Selection Sunday on the horizon
The Wildcats, led by guards Boo Buie and Chase Audige (pictured), finished the Big Ten regular season in second place. Photo by Griffin Quinn

It has been a storybook season thus far for Northwestern men’s basketball and the Wildcats still have one chapter left to write.

Northwestern will take on Penn State tonight at 5:30 p.m. at the United Center in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament. No matter what happens, the Wildcats have already made history. Prior to this season’s second-place regular season finish, Northwestern had never finished higher than sixth in the Big Ten. Powered by big wins over Purdue, Michigan State and a sweep of Indiana, the team won 12 conference games and established a new program record.

“The full focus is on this weekend,” said Chris Collins, who was named Big Ten Coach of the Year on Tuesday. “Knock on wood, we’re relatively healthy. The guys are in really good spirits.”

Here are four things to know about this wild hoops weekend.

1. ’Cats in Big Ten quarterfinal

The Big Ten tournament tipped off Wednesday, but by virtue of its second-place finish during the regular season, Northwestern earned a double bye into the quarterfinals at 5:30 p.m. Friday against Penn State. The game will be televised on Big Ten Network.

2. Student tickets, thanks to the Ryan family

Made possible by the generosity of the Ryan family, Northwestern has purchased hundreds of tickets for the quarterfinal game and distributed them to students at no cost.

3. United Center tickets still available

General public tickets to the Big Ten tournament are available now through Ticketmaster.

4. Fans invited to Selection Sunday

The Wildcats will learn their NCAA tournament fate on March 12 during Selection Sunday. Fans are invited to join the watch party at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Doors will open at 2:30 p.m. and the program will begin at 4 p.m. The tournament bracket will be unveiled at 5 p.m. Get free tickets at

Austin Siegel is a writer in the Division of Student Affairs.