Chris Collins took what was once believed to be an impossible job and is heading into his 10th season with the Northwestern Wildcats after making the NCAA Tournament.
As is tradition, CBB Review is again ranking the top 100 teams heading into the new college basketball season. Each day, we will reveal the next team until we reach the team slotted at number one. Follow along with #CBBRank on all our social media channels.
For the 10th year the Northwestern Wildcats are led by Chris Collins who has been the best coach in Northwestern history since the expanded NCAA tournament format. Collins has led Northwestern to both of its appearances in the NCAA tournament and heading into next year hopes are high that he can make that a third with the returning talent.
Last year Northwestern went 22-12 which was good for the second most wins they’ve ever gotten in a season. Heading into the 2023-24 season returning their top scorer in Boo Bouie will help tremendously.
Northwestern lost three players who played 20+ minutes per game for them with two of them transferring out and `one graduating in Chase Audige graduating and Robbie Beran and Julian Roper II transferring.
Collins also added three transfers as well as three freshmen all of which have the opportunity to make an impact. The freshmen class ranks 63rd in the entire country as they add Jordan Clayton the 218th-best player in the country according to 247 Sports Composite rankings, Parker Strauss the 222nd-ranked player, and Blake Barkley the 249th-ranked player.
Head coach: Chris Collins (10th season, 10th at Northwestern)
2022-23 record: 22-10 (12-8)
2023 postseason finish: Lost to UCLA, 68-63, in second round of NCAA Tournament
Notable departures: Chase Audige (Graduated), Robbie Beran (Transferred to Virginia Tech), Julian Roper II (Transferred to Notre Dame), Tydus Verhoeven (Graduated)
Notable non-conference games: vs. Rhode Island (Nov. 18), vs. Mississippi State OR Washington State (Nov. 19), Arizona State (Dec. 20)
PG: Boo Bouie (6-2, 180, Gr.-Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 17.3 PPG, 4.5 APG, 3.4 RPG, 1.1 SPG
SG: Ty Berry (6-3, 185, Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 8.5 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 1.1 APG, 1.4 SPG, 34.2 FG%
SF: Ryan Langborg (6-4, 186, Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 12.7 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 1.6 APG (Princeton)
PF: Brooks Barnhizer (6-6, 215, Jr.)
2022-23 stats: 7.6 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 1.1 APG
C: Matthew Nicholson (7-0, 255, Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 6.3 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.2 BPG, 61.4 FG%
6: Nick Martinelli (6-7, 200, So.)
2022-23 stats: 2.6 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 0.3 APG, 10.1 MPG
7: Justin Mullins (6-6, 190, So.)
2022-23 stats: 9.8 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 1.1 APG, 1.5 SPG, 36.5 3P% (Denver)
8: Blake Preston (6-9, 230, Gr.-Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 6.7 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.4 APG (Liberty)
9: Jordan Clayton (6-2, 180, Fr.)
247Sports Composite No. 218 rated player
10: Luke Hunger (6-10, 255, So.)
2022-23 stats: 2.7 PPG, 1.3 RPG, 0.2 APG, 6.2 MPG
11: Parker Strauss (6-4, 175, Fr.)
247Sports Composite No. 222 rated player
Northwestern Wildcats MVP: Boo Bouie
Bouie returns for his fifth year with the program and has made a lasting impact in his time in Evanston. He will yet again be the go to scorer for the offensive side and his perimeter defense will continue to pressure opposing players at the top of the key.
Bouie has the potential to be an all conference first team player and lead this Wildcats team to a top 25 rank in the final AP poll if he can continue to do what he did last year.
Northwestern Wildcats make-or-break player: Brooks Barnhizer
A tall lengthy guard that will need to play forward, Barnhizer will enter the starting lineup for the first time at Northwestern this season. He will need to play how he did off the bench last year being a sparkplug on offense or an anchor on the defensive side.
With him being the second tallest player in the starting lineup, he’s going to be taking a beating guarding bigger players than him, but if he can hold his ground, Northwestern basketball will need to rely less on scoring the ball.
Key analytic: 3P%
Last season the Northwestern Wildcats were 279th out of 363 teams in three point percentage. If the Wildcats want to compete against the likes of Michigan State and Purdue for the conference title then they will have to be a lot more consistent shooting the ball from deep and having four guards in the starting lineup should help.
If Bouie can just get a bit more consistent (31.8 3P% in 2022-23), then his numbers may skyrocket the team to even more success. Mullins, a transfer from Denver, could also help the Wildcats become better from outside.
Northwestern Wildcats 2023-24 projections
Projected conference finish: 6th in the Big Ten
Projected postseason ceiling: NCAA Tournament – Sweet 16 Exit