Northwestern Men’s Basketball MVP: Boo Buie
By Patrick Winograd
I think everyone knows this race comes down to two candidates: the dynamic backcourt duo of Boo Buie and Chase Audige. While Audige finished as the slightly more efficient three-point shooter of the two (32.5% from deep compared to Buie’s 31.8%), Buie has the statistical advantage in points, assists and field goal%, while the two are dead even at 4.5 rebounds per game.
Overall, while Audige’s impact on this team defensively as the Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Year was massive, Buie’s performance on the offensive end, especially with his improvement as a facilitator, allows him to be MVP of this team.
For the third straight year, Buie raised his per game average in assists, which climbed to 4.5 assists per game, which ranked fifth in the Big Ten in 2022. Buie’s 17.3 points per game ranked sixth in the Big Ten, and what is even more impressive about his season is that he raised his averages when the team needed it most in conference games.
Although his assists per game only improved from 4.5 to 4.6, Buie’s points per game average went up almost two points in conference (from 17.3 points per game to 19.1 points per game).
Buie had many iconic performances throughout the season, and it started early on. After scoring 16 or fewer points in Northwestern’s first three games, Buie set a career-high with seven three-pointers made in a 60-52 win over Purdue Fort Wayne. His 28 points in that game were the second-highest scoring total of his career, but even more important for Buie, this was the game where he crossed the threshold of 1,000 career points.
Buie struggled through his next three games, averaging 7.0 points and 3.0 assists on 7-for-31 shooting (22.6%), as Northwestern went 1-2 against Liberty, No. 13 Auburn and Pitt. But Buie was not going to let a little cold streak derail his season. Just in time for the conference opener, Buie came back to form, dropping 20 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists as Northwestern took down No. 20 Michigan State on the road.
In fact, starting with the game against Pitt, Buie would register double-digit scoring games in every game until a February 26 matchup against Maryland. Within that stretch of 22 games, Buie had some more great performances. His first helped Northwestern get a second ranked road victory in conference, as he scored 26 points in an 84-83 road victory over No. 15 Indiana.
Buie notched 26 points over an Indiana school again when he stuffed the stat sheet with his best game of the year in an upset over No. 1 Purdue. Buie ended the game with 26 points, four rebounds, three assists, three steals and three blocks as Northwestern got its signature victory at Welsh-Ryan Arena, with fans storming the court after the game’s conclusion.
But Northwestern did not have time to celebrate, as a rematch against No. 14 Indiana was on the horizon. Buie was more than ready, and in a game tied at 62-62 with just two seconds left, he scored his 20th and 21st points of the game on a game-winning floater.
Buie’s highest scoring output was yet to come, as that would be his career-high 35-point game against Illinois. Buie scored in bunches despite playing with the wrong jersey number for most of the game after his jersey got ripped in the first half.
Buie continued to shine in the postseason as well. In Northwestern’s second NCAA Tournament appearance in program history, Buie posted 22 points, five rebounds and five assists to guide Northwestern past 10-seed Boise State. Buie had a valiant effort with 18 points, four rebounds and four assists in Northwestern’s game against two-seed UCLA, but that unfortunately wasn’t enough to knock off the Bruins and Northwestern’s season was over.
But while ‘Cats fans dreaded the season to come in a possible post Audige and Buie era, Buie came out with some of the best news Northwestern basketball fans could ever hear, when he took to social media to share this message: “I’m not done yet. Wildcat Nation, I’m back.”
‘Cats fans will welcome the WNUR 2022-2023 Northwestern Basketball MVP back to Welsh-Ryan Arena with open arms as Northwestern chases down a second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance for the first time in program history.