Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Northwestern ends drought with 1st NCAA Tourney appearance

Northwestern's agonizing wait went down to the wire.

All those forgettable moments and tantalizing teases over the previous 77 seasons were cast aside Sunday as the Wildcats celebrated their first NCAA Tournament bid when the final section of the bracket was revealed. By earning the No. 8 seed in the West Region, Northwestern will face ninth-seeded Vanderbilt on Thursday in Salt Lake City.

Northwestern ceded the title of having the longest tourney drought among power-five conference schools to Rutgers by becoming one of five first-time entrants in the 68-team field — the most since the field expanded to 40 in 1979.

The immediate reaction inside Welsh-Ryan Arena...