The Northwestern Wildcats have been drubbed in every Big 10 Conference matchup they’ve had this season. Their last victory was on December 22, and the Wildcats rank 320th in the nation in scoring. All signs pointed to a fifth consecutive loss for Northwestern. Nobody thought that the Wildcats would be able to contend with Illinois. The Wildcats, against all odds, contended with a ranked opponent.
Perhaps it was the team designed uniforms that the Wildcats debuted Sunday that changed the fortunes of the team. The Northwestern uniforms looked like a collage of word art phases. Much like word art phrases, the Wildcats did not look professional. Their play however, was highly professional.
Northwestern held the Fighting Illini to 43 points. It wasn’t a flashy defensive performance. The Wildcats only forced six turnovers, had two blocks and a steal. Northwestern was outrebounded by Illinois, and gave up 14 offensive rebounds. It was not a flashy performance; Northwestern out-gutted their opponent.
Northwestern rookie head coach Chris Collins notched his biggest win of the season Sunday evening. Collins finally got his first conference win. This is the only matchup between the two teams that have the potential to become in-state rivals in the coming years. Collins sent a message to potential recruits that he means business. This win speaks volumes to the state of Illinois because Northwestern won the big in-state game in a state that is one of the most talent laden states in the country. Northwestern is by no means a contender in the Big 10, but a win of this magnitude makes the Wildcats potential players in the coming years.