The Daily Dish: Northwestern is having a historic season
Northwestern has been one of the biggest surprises in the Big Ten this year. Ahead of the final turn of the season, the Wildcats are currently second in the conference (19-7 overall, 10-5 in the Big Ten). And in the process, they make history.
After five consecutive losing seasons, the Northwest finally returns to the NCAA Tournament. This will be the second time in school history that the Wildcats will play in the NCAA Tournament. Head coach Chris Collins deserves more credit for this turn. Now he’s gone from being a leader to being the guy who deserves the title of National Coach of the Year.
On Wednesday night, the Northwestern continued to show its legitimacy by holding off the rising Indiana team with a 64–62 victory. This victory over the No. 18 Hoosiers gives the Wildcats four ranking wins for the season.
The historic season in the Northwest is the result of two main factors. For starters, the Wildcats were able to keep most of their key elements, which is a feat in the NIL era. Plus, Northwestern has the ability to rely on trusted high school students when things seem to be going awry. And while the college basketball situation may make you think differently, the collective “aging” of players has historically led to team success. This year’s Northwestern is a case in point.
In addition to general experience, Chase Age and Boo Buie deserve more recognition for what they’ve done this season. These two senior defensemen both average at least 15 points per game and are critical to what this team does offensively. If they want to be successful in March, the Wildcats will need similar results from both of these players.
The Northwest will also need a strong finish to the season to take the top spot in the playoffs. The Wildcats have five regular season games left (two more home games and three away), and the Big Ten is a tight conference with only one game currently separating five different teams from second place. All of those five remaining games will be important to the Northwestern as they will go a long way towards the Big Ten Tournament and seeding for the NCAA Tournament.
The Wildcats’ next competition will be against Iowa on Sunday at 6:30 pm ET.
The Daily Dish is a daily column on college basketball that is rotated by 247Sports journalists covering the day’s biggest events in the sport and will run through the NCAA Tournament in April.