Men’s Basketball: Visualizing three trends that characterize this historic season


Daily file photo by Angeli Mittal

Senior guard Boo Buie faces multiple defenders at The United Center on Friday, Mar. 10, 2023. Northwestern lost to Penn State 65-67 in overtime.

Katherine Chen and Annika Hiredesai

As Northwestern heads into the NCAA tournament as the No. 7 seed in the West Region, here are three trends to explain how Northwestern’s men’s basketball team is doing in its 2022-2023 season so far.

1. Who are the Cats’ most effective scorers and where are those points made from?

Stats to Know: Points per game (PPG), Field Goal Made (FGM), Field Goal Attempts (FGA), Effective Field Goal Percentage, eFG% = (FGM + (0.5 x 3 PT))/FGA. 

Visualization 1: Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%)

Visualization 2: FG Points per Game: 3 PT vs FG (excluding 3 PTs)

The Breakdown: Effective field goal percentage (eFG%) is a scoring efficiency metric with adjusted weights to account for the increased worth of a 3 PT shot. Though guards Boo Buie (17.3 PPG), Chase Audige (14.3 PPG) and Ty Berry (8.5 PPG) were the top three lead scorers this season, junior center Matthew Nicholson had the highest eFG% this season (59%). This is notable given that all of Nicholson’s FG points this season came from within the arc.

2. Chase and Boo’s impact on the team 

The Visualization: Season Total Points on Season Total Minutes

The Breakdown: The Cats’ most productive superstars, senior guard Boo Buie and redshirt senior guard Chase Audige, stand out from the rest of the roster with 532 and 436 season points, respectively. The 2022-2023 All-Big Ten first team includes Buie, and the second team includes Audige; the dynamic duo adds the league accolades to their career resumes.

3. The best offense is good defense.

Visualization 1: Offensive metrics (assists and rebounds) vs defensive metrics (steals and blocks)

Visualization 2: How many points other teams score

The Breakdown: When it comes to secondary offensive metrics, Northwestern is underwhelming compared to conference opponents. They are ranked in the bottom half of the conference for assists per game and offensive rebounds per game. Despite these mediocre numbers, Northwestern is ranked #2 in the Big Ten conference for steals and #4 for blocks. This dynamic defense is spearheaded by this year’s Co-Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, senior guard Chase Audige. The team’s defensive prowess has mitigated offensive woes by limiting opponent scorelines.

Rounding off a stellar regular season led by Big Ten Coach of the Year Chris Collins, the Cats head into the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2017 with a dominant defense and competitive spirit. 

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Related Stories:

From job on the line to Big Ten Coach of The Year: How Chris Collins led Northwestern to another historic season

Men’s Basketball: ‘He’s really gonna be special’: How Brooks Barnhizer evolved into Northwestern’s Swiss Army knife

Men’s Basketball: Northwestern’s offensive woes on full display in heartbreaking 67-65 Big Ten Tournament loss to Penn State