The Wildcats emerged after years of humbling results, and coach Chris Collins deserves some credit for that. In the first 14 games Northwestern lost only to Butler and Notre Dame, while getting wins against the likes of Texas, DePaul, Wake Forest and Dayton. The Wildcats have a deep roster with the right mix of youth and experience and balanced rotations. The offense is efficient, although often relying on talent rather than on a system. Northwestern built a defensive identity on physicality and rebounding, with the latter being a strength on the offensive glass as well. A complicated season for the usual top teams in the Big Ten allowed them took advantage of the situation to hold on to the upper part of the standings. After reaching the Big Ten semifinal, they will now be in the tournament for the first time in history.
Bryant McIntosh, Vic Law and Derek Pardon are the three most important players. McIntosh is the team top scorer and the best offensive player overall. Law can play both forward spots, he can shoot from outside and play in the post. Pardon is a huge presence in the paint: strong, agile and effective, the kind of force that cannot be underestimated on the boards.
If the Wildcats will not feel the pressure of the tournament they can reach the second round.