Northwestern plays like 2017 in knocking off No. 20 Michigan

ROSEMONT, IL - FEBRUARY 06: Northwestern Wildcats guard Bryant McIntosh (30) handles the basketball in front of Michigan Wolverines guard Duncan Robinson (22) and Michigan Wolverines guard Zavier Simpson (3) during the game between the Northwestern Wildcats and the Michigan Wolverines on February 6, 2018 at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

ROSEMONT – Moments like this were a little more commonplace a year ago, when they were the darlings of College Basketball.

Not so much anymore. Now Northwestern is in the middle of the pack with a number of Big Ten and National teams in need of a major late season run if they hope to go dancing in just over a month. Following their first NCAA Tournament appearance last Winter, it’s been nothing but inconsistency for the Wildcats in their follow-up campaign.

But for a brief moment – and maybe not the last of this season – Chris Collins’ team turned the clocks back a year in a performance more emblematic of 2017 than 2018.

A strong second half, which has escaped Northwestern a few times this year, came through against No. 20 Michigan at Allstate Arena Tuesday to produce the team’s biggest win of the year so far. The 61-52 win is the first over a ranked opponent for the Wildcats in a night more reminiscent of the great times of a year ago.

After losing a first half lead in a dismal second half against the Wolverine in Ann Arbor just eight days earlier, Northwestern was the one who closed the game with the momentum. Vic Law’s three pointer 2:48 into the second half gave the Wildcats a 35-33 and they continued to build it from there.

In the final ten minutes the Wildcats pulled away thanks to Bryant McIntosh, whose jumper with 3:43 remaining pushed the Northwestern lead to ten in adding to his game-high 24 points. Scottie Lindsey finished off his 19 point night with a trio of free throws in the final seconds to give the team their first “upset” of the 2017-2018 season.

Of course, that comes just now in February. It’s easily the Wildcats’ best win of the year in a season which they now are sporting a 15-10 record. But with a lack of quality victories, Northwestern is facing the prospect of possibly having to win their final six games of the Big Ten season then a few games in the conference tournament to impress the committee.

That’s a worry for another day for the moment for the Wildcats, who got a taste of success on Tuesday that was there a bit more often just a year ago.