The 2012 National Invitational Tournament took a bit of a backseat to the NCAA Tournament when the more-heralded tournament began its schedule on Thursday afternoon, but the NIT will look to claim its stake in March Madness once again on Friday night. There's only one game on tap in the NIT bracket on Friday, but it should be a good one.
The top-seeded Washington Huskies, a surprise no-show in the NCAA bracket considering their status as regular season conference champions, will play another NCAA bubble team in the Northwestern Wildcats. Friday night's game, scheduled to be broadcast at 10 p.m. on ESPNU, is for the right to advance to the tournament's quarterfinals.
The Huskies lost just four games in the Pac-12, but a bad loss to the South Dakota St. Jackrabbits and a 25-point drubbing courtesy of the Oregon Ducks eliminated them from the big tournament. Sophomore guard Terrence Ross and junior Abdul Gaddy will look to make the NCAA officials regret their decision with a solid run through the NIT.
Northwestern was expected to be in the other tournament's field as well, but an overtime loss to the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the first round of the tournament moved them to the NIT. Senior forward John Shurna will instead have to pull his team to an NIT championship as he leaves the school as one of the more accomplished players in team history.