Northwestern Wildcats Basketball Details
The Northwestern Wildcats men’s basketball team was established in 1901, and though the team saw some early success, an NCAA Tournament berth was a long-elusive goal for the program. While the first ever NCAA tournament championship was held at Northwestern in March, 1939, the first time Northwestern played in the tournament was in 2017. One main reason that the program finally broke through is new head coach Chris Collins, a long-time Duke assistant who took over in 2013. Collins has made an immediate impact, helping the school gradually improve and, in 2016, leading the Wildcats them to their best season since before World War II. Collins coached the team to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 2017 and their first-round win over Vanderbilt. Fortunately for Wildcats fans, Coach Collins signed an extension to stay with the Wildcats through the 2025 season.
The Northwestern Wildcats finished the 2016-2017 season with a 24-12 overall record and a 10-8 conference record, good for sixth in the Big Ten Conference. Perhaps one of the most memorable moments of the season -- and possibly in WIldcats history -- was their buzzer-beater 67-65 victory over Michigan, which many believe clinched NU’s tournament bid. With 1.7 seconds left in the game and tied at 65-65, Nathan Taphorn launched an 88-foot pass to Dererk Pardon who nailed a lay-up right at the buzzer. “The Play” was a contender for the ESPY Best Play award. The Wildcats’ roster is built for success in coming years, with many returning players including Pardon, forward Vic Law, and star guards Scottie Lindsey and Bryant McIntosh. A strong recruiting class will join the program, among them shooting guard Anthony Gaines, a three-star recruit ranked third-best in his home state of New Hampshire. Gaines committed to the Wildcats in September and became Northwestern’s first commitment. For the 2017-2018 season the Wildcats will be playing at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, IL while their home court, Welsh-Ryan Arena, undergoes a renovation.