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Sports Then and Now




The World was a Different Place the Last Time Northwestern beat Ohio State on the Road in Basketball

Posted on February 08, 2017 by Bernie Stein

Northwestern-basketballNorthwestern men’s basketball proved itself to be a real contender for both the Big 10 and the NCAA Tournament with its win at Columbus over the Ohio State Buckeyes on January 22.

It was the first time the Wildcats have beaten Ohio State on the road since 1977, a 39-year losing streak.

Two free throws each by Scottie Lindsey and Vic Law salted the game away in the final seconds of a 74-72 win. The Wildcats improved to 16-4 overall and 5-2 in the Big 10, where they have four road wins.

So what were the conditions in 1977 when the Wildcats knocked off the Buckeyes at their own house? A quick trip in the Wayback Machine reveals some fantastic details. Here’s a look at a few:

The 1976-1977 Northwestern Wildcats were coached by Tex Winter: Yes, THAT Tex Winter. Texas went an abysmal 42-89 for the Wildcats as part of his 30-year college coaching career. This was 14 years after he wrote a book called “The Triple-Post Offense” also known as the triangle. In 1985, old friend Jerry Krause hired him to be an assistant for the Chicago Bulls and teach the offense to a young kid named Michael Jordan. Tex went on to win nine NBA championships as an assistant coach – six with the Bulls and three with the Lakers.

Herb Williams was a sophomore on the losing 1977 Ohio State squad: Williams would end up playing 18 years in the NBA, his best stop being in Indiana. He was a beast in college, setting a school record for points with 2,011 in his career and is still second behind Jerry Lucas with 1,111 rebounds. He was 6’10”, 240 pounds at the time and easily the biggest guy on the squad.

The Wildcats were terrible that year: They went 7-20 overall, 5-13 in the Big 10, and finished 194th out of 244 teams in the country in team defense.

Star Wars hadn’t come out yet: The original film would debut a few months later in May 1977. When Northwestern pulled the upset, nobody outside of George Lucas’s circle of friends knew anyone named Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Darth Vader, or Obi-Wan Kenobi. At the time, the franchise had earned $0.00. Today, as Rogue One passes $500 million, the franchise has made more than $3.7 billion at the box office domestically.

The Final Four matched North Carolina against UNLV and Marquette against UNC-Charlotte: Yep, that old powerhouse UNC-Charlotte. UNLV lost to Dean Smith by a point, while Marquette dribbled UNC-Charlotte into a coma and won 51-49. Al McGuire’s Marquette squad took the title by eight points.

Jimmy Carter succeeded Gerald Ford as President of the United States: When Carter entered the primaries, he was given almost no chance to win. But as a Washington outsider, people began to get interested in him, despite his unusual manner of speaking. In speeches, he attacked Washington again and again while pairing with an established Midwestern politician as his running mate. Hmm, where have I heard this story before?

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