Evanston ready for Northwestern basketball’s 1st NCAA tournament

EVANSTON, Ill. -- The Northwestern Wildcats men's basketball team is about to find out what March Madness is like.

The team is on the verge of its first ever game in the NCAA championship tournament.

Eighth-seeded Northwestern takes on ninth-seeded Vanderbilt Thursday afternoon in Salt Lake City.

The winner will face the winner of top-seeded Gonzaga and 16 seed South Dakota State on Saturday.

Win or lose, Evanston is celebrating Northwestern's invitation to the Big Dance for the first time in 78 years.

"I can't tell you how excited I am. My dad captained the Northwestern team back in 1938. I grew up in the program," said Hank Trenkle at the Evanston Levy Community Center.

Hank Trinkle's dad, Fred Trinkle, played in the old Patten Gym, the site of the very first men's NCAA basketball championship in 1939.

Trenkle and countless other Wildcat fans are hoping to see some magic tonight.

The city is hosting watch parties at five community centers.

The locations are:

  • Chandler-Newberger Center, 1028 Central St.
  • Fleetwood-Jourdain Center, 1655 Foster St.
  • Gibbs-Morrison Cultural Center, 1823 Church St.
  • Levy Center, 300 Dodge Ave.
  • Robert Crown Center, 1701 Main St.

For more information, please call/text 847-448-4311.