As we enter the fall season and college football gets underway, college basketball is right around the corner. As always, to prepare you for the season, Land-Grant Holy Land will be publishing Big Ten Team Previews and Ohio State Basketball Player Previews, starting now with the Team Previews.
Team: Northwestern Wildcats
Head coach: Chris Collins, 11th Season, 153-161 (66-121)
2022-23 record: 22-12 (12-8)
All-time record against Ohio State: 25-100
Returners: Boo Buie, Ty Berry, Brooks Barnhizer, Matthew Nicholson, Nick Martinelli, Luke Hunger
Departures: Tydus Verhoeven, Chase Audige, Julian Roper, Robbie Beran
Newcomers: Jordan Clayton, Blake Barkley, Parker Strauss, Blake Preston, Justin Mullins, Ryan Langborg
Boo Buie returns to Evanston, and that alone is going to win the Wildcats some games. Buie is not only one of the top guards in the conference, but one of the top guards in the country, and for the Wildcats to have another successful season, they will need him to be the best version of himself.
Buie averaged 17.3 points per game, 3.4 rebounds per game, and 4.5 assists per game. He led the team in points and assists.
However, Chase Audige has graduated, and with him goes his 14.1 points per game, 3.4 rebounds per game, and 2.9 assists per game.
Losing Chase Audige is a huge deal for the Wildcats, and it will not be easy to replace his production. Audige was one of the best two-way players in the conference and helped take some of the offensive pressure off of Buie at times.
The Wildcats do return its third-leading scorer, Ty Berry, who averaged 8.5 points per game and 4.8 rebounds per game. Berry will need to help complement Buie on the offensive end to force teams not only to play to take Buie out of the game.
Northwestern added Ryan Langborg from Princeton in the transfer portal. Langborg averaged 12.7 points per game and 3.1 rebounds per game and was one of the stars of the Princeton team that made the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament. He is an elite shooter who will come in and provide that to Chris Collins, plus some veteran experience.
Justin Mullins, a transfer from Denver, can also be a possible double-digit scorer for the Wildcats.
Matthew Nicholson and Brooks Barnhizer are also promising players from last season and will look to step into larger roles and become double-digit scorers.
As mentioned, Buie is one of the top players in the conference and is a long shot to win Big Ten Player of the Year, but even his floor is likely as high as First Team All-Conference. He is the perfect player to build a team around and
However, losing Buie’s right-hand man in Chase Audige is not going to be easy for the Wildcats.
Northwestern has the star they need, now they have to find the pieces that complement Buie the best and put them in the best positions to succeed. Whether it is a returning player like Berry or Barnhizer or a transfer like Langborg or Mullins, someone is going to have to be the second guy who averages 12-14 points per game. Northwestern can be a tournament team again this season, they just have to hit on the transfers they brought in.