CHICAGO – It was a historic season in Evanston for a program that spent the last half-decade in the bottom half of the Big Ten.
That’s why the Northwestern men’s basketball team got more than a few honors from the conference when their annual awards were announced on Tuesday.
Head coach Chris Collins was named the Big Ten’s Coach of the Year after leading the great turnaround for the team that hasn’t finished with a record over .500 since making the NCAA Tournament in 2017.
In the 2022-2023 season, the Wildcats won a program record 12 Big Ten games to finish in second place in the conference, the best for Northwestern since the 1958-1959 season. Collins is the first Wildcats’ men’s basketball coach to win the Big Ten Coach of the Year honor since Bill Carmody in 2004.
His assistant coach, Chris Lowery, was named the conference’s first recipient of the Howard Moore Assistant Coach of the Year award in his first year in Evanston.
Senior guard Chase Audige was named the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year, becoming the first since Pat Baldwin in 1994 to win the award at the school. Also a finalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year, the guard had a Big Ten-best 74 steals in the regular season.
Fellow senior guard Boo Buie earned All-Big Ten first team honors from the media and second from the coaches after a strong season as one of the leaders of the Wildcats. A finalist for the Bob Cousy Award for best point guard in Division I men’s basketball, Buie is averaging 17.5 points and 4.7 assists per contest.
Senior forward Robbie Beran was the team’s Big Ten sportsmanship honoree.
Northwestern has the second seed heading into the Big Ten Tournament this weekend at the United Center in Chicago as the look ahead to just their second NCAA Tournament appearance in program history.
As for Illinois, Chicago native and former Lincoln Park High School standout Terrence Shannon Jr. was named to the All-Big Ten first team by the coaches and to the second team by the media. He leads the Illini in scoring with 17.1 points per game in his first year in Champaign.
Another player in his first season with the program, graduate student Matthew Mayer, was an All-Big Ten third team pick by the coaches and the media while also being Illinois’ sportsmanship honoree. The forward averaged 13 points and 5.4 rebounds per game for the Illini, who are headed to the NCAA Tournament for a third-straight year.
A seventh-seed in the Big Ten Tournament, they’ll open play against Penn State on Thursday at the United Center at 5:30 p.m.