Chris Collins and Northwestern have reportedly agreed to a lengthy contract extension on Monday morning.
According to Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune, Collins, 43, and the university have come to terms on a deal that will run through the 2024-25 season.
The news shouldn’t come as a surprise. Collins, in his fourth year in Evanston, took Northwestern to the first NCAA Tournament in school history. The Wildcats defeated Vanderbilt in the first round and had eventual national finalist Gonzaga on the ropes in the second round before a controversial call swung all the momentum they had.
In four seasons, Collins has a 73-60 (30-42 Big Ten) record, with back-to-back 20-win seasons.
Northwestern football coach Pat Fitzgerald is also reportedly in line for an extension, according to the Tribune.
Northwestern won its first NCAA Tournament game in dramatic fashion on Thursday evening.
The No. 8 seed in the West Region nearly blew a sizable lead against No. 9 seed Vanderbilt. But a wild finish led to the Wildcats escaping with a 68-66 victory.
After rollercoaster two hours — on top of the seven decades Northwestern has waited for its One Shining Moment — it was time to celebrate.
Northwestern advances to face top-seeded Gonzaga in the second round on Saturday in Salt Lake City.
With an NCAA tournament berth potentially in the balance, Northwestern’s prayers were answered.
The Wildcats’ Nathan Taphorn threw the ball the length of the floor with 1.3 seconds left to Dererk Pardon, whose layup at the buzzer broke a tie with Michigan and gave Northwestern a 67-65 victory Wednesday.
Northwestern’s frontcourt is set to add reinforcements.
Dererk Pardon, who has missed the last eight games due to a hand injury, is expected to return to the court for the Wildcats on Wednesday, according to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.
The 6-foot-8 center underwent surgery to his right (non-shooting) hand early last month. Northwestern went 7-1 in his absence, with the lone loss coming Friday against Michigan State. The Wildcats have Minnesota at home Thursday.
Pardon was averaging 6.9 points and 7 rebounds per game while shooting 57.6 percent from the floor for Northwestern. While the Wildcats were successful without Pardon, his return helps bolster a lineup that is currently enjoying a 12-3 start to the season in an attempt to secure the school’s first-ever NCAA tournament appearance.
Butler put together a fairly dominating performance on Saturday, beating No. 9 Indiana 83-78 in a game they lead by 14 at halftime. Kelan Martin led the way with 28 points for the Bulldogs, who suddenly look like a team that we need to talk about at the top of the Big East this season.
They’re one of just two teams this season to beat the Hoosiers, who own wins over top ten teams North Carolina and Kansas. They’re one of just two teams to beat Arizona this season. They’ve beaten Cincinnati. They’ve beaten Vanderbilt and Northwestern. They won at Utah. Their lone loss on the season came on the road to an in-state rival that will likely finish in the top four of one of the best mid-major leagues in the country.
They have a star in Martin. They have a pair of talented point guards, Tyler Lewis and Kamar Baldwin, who compliment each other so well. Andrew Chrabacsz and Tyler Wideman makeup an underrated front court. Chris Holtmann has proven to be one of the best young coaches in the game.
Look, I don’t think anyone believes Butler is going to win the Big East barring some kind of season-altering injury to Villanova.
But is there really any reason to believe that the Bulldogs can’t finish second in the Big East?
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THEY WERE GOOD TOO
- Purdue: The Boilermakers came back from 17 points down in the first half to knock off Notre Dame in the Crossroads Classic on Saturday. Caleb Swanigan was the star, but credit has to be given to Vince Edwards as well. He played his best basketball of the season, finishing with 20 points and 10 boards.
- Arizona: Give Sean Miller and Arizona credit. This team, with Ray Smith done for the year, Parker Jackson-Cartwright injured and Allonzo Trier out, just keeps winning. On Saturday, they handed Texas A&M a loss in Houston in the Lone Star Shootout, and while Lauri Markkanen, Kobi Simmons and Rawle Alkins all have continued to improve this season, it was Dusan Ristic who was the star on Saturday.
- Seton Hall: The Pirates landed a key win in their push to get a bid to the NCAA tournament by handing South Carolina their first loss of the season. The Pirates may be without Isaiah Whitehead this season, but they still have a roster full of scrappy, athletic veterans that are not going to back down from anyone. I don’t know if anyone plays as hard as Angel Delgado.
- Oklahoma State: The Cowboys picked up their biggest win of the season on Saturday, as they went into Wichita and knocked off the Shockers in a dominating performance. Brad Underwood has had this group playing better this season, but this was really the first time that the Pokes have landed a resulted that backs that up.
- Northwestern: Is this going to be the year that the Wildcats finally make it to the NCAA tournament? They still have a ton of work left to do, but the job got a little bit easier on Saturday as Northwestern knocked off Dayton in the United Center in Chicago. Chris Collins has that team sitting at 9-2 on the season, with the losses coming by a total of six points against Butler and Notre Dame. They’ve beaten Texas, DePaul and Wake Forest already this year, but Dayton has a chance to be a top 25 win come Selection Sunday.
Northwestern forward Aaron Falzon will be out for the rest of the season following surgery on his knee, the school announced on Sunday.
“We all feel badly for Aaron,” said Northwestern head men’s basketball coach Chris Collins. “We were looking forward to him being a big part of our team this season. He already is on the road to recovery and we look forward to getting him back on the court and being a central piece of our program for the next three years.”
Falzon had played just 20 scoreless minutes in three games this season. He’s missed the last five games.
A 6-foot-8 sophomore, Falzon averaged 8.4 points and 3.6 boards while shooting 35.4 percent from three as a freshman last season.