Chris Collins is rapidly improving Northwestern basketball, and were it not for a couple of very close losses to quality teams, the Wildcats would be comfortably in the field of 68 at this point in the season.
They might still be there if brackets were filled out today, but quality wins will need to be amassed during conference play. But I suspect they will, in no small part due to Northwestern's offensive attack. Much like their coach did in his salad days, the Cats hunt three-pointers as a primary option. Whether it be in transition or within the half court, NU's perimeter attack, spearheaded by Vic Law and Scottie Lindsey, will punish all teams that dare to go underneath screens.
But NU has faced defenses that exert more pressure on the perimeter. One example was Wake Forest, which held the Cats to under a point per possession. While NU's guards are excellent passers, ultimately they failed to exploit the pressure defense inside the arc.
Some of that is certainly due to the inexperience of Derek Pardon. Pardon has turned himself into a fine defender (indeed, he is likely the principal reason why Northwestern's defense looks nothing like those of the Carmody days), but offensively he functions as a Large Object that gets in the way of defenders (and occasionally his teammates).
I think NU has better than even odds of breaking the NCAA Tournament streak this season, but the sooner Pardon learns to exploit defenses selling out on 3-point shooters, the better.