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The Commodores come into this game winners of seven of their last nine. "But to be able to do that at the free throw line was very relaxing".

Thursday is a day that all Northwestern University fans have been waiting for, as the Wildcats will open NCAA tournament play with a tough contest against Vanderbilt.

McIntosh has been the motor for Northwestern's offense all season, whether its setting up teammates or scoring himself, most possessions runs through number 30. The time of the game has yet to be determined. But with the game on the line, Riley LaChance, who had just assisted on an easy layup that gave Vanderbilt, pulled up for a 28-foot three-pointer that hit the back of the rim to basically end the game.

ON HAND: Collins called the pro-Wildcats crowd one of the best he's seen at the tournament.

McIntosh saved his biggest points for the game's final moments. "He had great pop today", head coach Chris Collins said. Without the foul, Northwestern still would have had the ball down one with a ton of time left on the clock. In the end it was a pair of free throws by guard Bryant McIntosh with 14 seconds left that were the difference as the Wildcats picked up their first-ever NCAA Tournament victory.

"I only got tickets to the first game, but if Northwestern wins, then I'll probably cash in some more marriage pesos and stay another couple days", he said. Gifted two free throws, the Wildcats star calmly sank both to reclaim the lead for good. "Still D.R.E." was not thematically appropriate-it's a song about a legend re-emerging to reclaim his throne, and Northwestern is the most non-legendary program in all of the major conferences, one that only just made its way out of infamy-but the Wildcats can be excused: This was a day where none of the program's old themes seemed to apply.

Finally under the bright lights of college basketball's biggest event, McIntosh didn't slow down.

Then, as so often happens in the NCAA Tournament between a one-seed and a sixteen, the Goliath clamped down.

When Northwestern built a 15-point lead early in the second half, it was Fisher-Davis who made two of the four 3-pointers that cut that margin to three in fewer than two minutes.

"I felt like my whole career I was destined to play in the NCAA tournament", McIntosh said after the game.

"I don't really think that we realize what we're doing right now", Northwestern junior guard Scottie Lindsey said. McIntosh was so bewildered, "I thought maybe I made a mistake", he said. I hate solicitors. The game was too exciting so I just invited him in rather than hear his sales pitch or rudely tell him to get off my porch.

In a way it was also a bit of redemption for McIntosh.

But even as Vandy had an opportunity for only a full-court heave with 1.4 seconds left, McIntosh wasn't done being nervous.

Luckily for Wildcats fans, it was a successful one as Northwestern beat Vanderbilt 68-66 Thursday afternoon in a thriller in Salt Lake City.

It's just another hatchet buried in a year that has been all about burying the suffering of the past. For the season, Northwestern was more of an under team with 12-18-2 score, so the recent streak shows intentional odd setting adjustment.