In the 2023 NCAA Tournament, Princeton, a 15 seed, made the Sweet Sixteen while also notching its first NCAA Tournament win in over forty years. The Tigers defeated one of the title favorites in Arizona, then blew out a top SEC offense in Missouri. Though they were defeated by Creighton in the Sweet Sixteen, it was a wildly successful season for the Tigers.
That tournament run would not have been possible without Ryan Langborg, who will now suit up for Northwestern next year. Langborg had two of his best performances of the year on the national stage against Missouri and Creighton, and through this, he showed why he will be a vital piece for the Wildcats’ success next year.
What does Langborg do well on offense? To start, he creates shots for himself, both inside and outside and also has a high IQ. In the Mizzou and Creighton games, where Princeton was able to outperform one of the top power five offenses while also sticking with high-scoring Creighton, Langborg dropped 22 and 26 points respectively.
Let’s start with the Mizzou game, where Langborg shot the lights out in the first half. He hit three three-pointers in the first ten minutes, and this opened up the rest of his game.
Starting with the shots outside the arc, they show Langborg’s ability to be a spot-up shooter. The following two clips show the guard shooting from the same spot — without a dribble.
Here, we can see Langborg’s ability to shoot beyond the arc. The upper-right side was one of his favorite spots throughout the year, and he punished Missouri with this early.
Langborg has the ability, however, to shoot the three from anywhere. The following clip shows a deep logo shot five minutes into the game.
Langborg hit three shots from beyond the arc early in the first half, and what does this do? It immediately opens up aspects of his other game. The guard was able to start putting the ball on the deck more as the game progressed.
Above, Missouri puts emphasis on Langborg starting from the logo, and then, he shows his blow-by power to get by the defender and to the rim. He scores on the layup, and this ability to blow by is similar to what Northwestern had with Boo Buie. No, Langborg might not be the same exact player, but he has similar attributes.
Similar to what Buie was able to do in the second half of the year, Langborg created shots for his teammates, whether it was off the dribble or driving to the net. The below clip shows this.
Here, Langborg drives and finds Tosan Evbuomwan for an easy dunk. The emphasis was on the guard, and he was able to distribute the ball. This is a strength for him.
After getting a few assists, Langborg went back to creating his own shots in the second half. He starts with this spin move against a Missouri big man and scores easily.
Langborg is able to drive to the rim, and this will be crucial for Northwestern. Furthermore, this opened up a triple for Langborg a few possessions later.
This might be his best play of the game: he really combines all attributes of his offense, from the ability to drive, create separation and hit a three-pointer. His speed throws Missouri off guard, and he is able to hit a three to make Princeton lead 18 and put the game out of reach. Princeton went to the Sweet Sixteen because of his scoring.
Moving on, though they lost to Creighton, Langborg scored a season-high of 26 points as the Tigers kept pace with one of the top offenses in the country. But, this time, Langborg started with his drive, and as the game progressed, he started to create more shots from outside.
His driving ability opened up the game, starting with his first bucket.
In the clip above, Langborg gets the ball and with no hesitation, drives at Ryan Kalkbrenner, one of the top bigs in the nation. Kalkbrenner plays good defense here as Langborg runs into him, but the guard is still able to score. A similar play on Kalkbrenner can be seen below.
It’s clear the guard has the ability to drive and drive well, even against some of the top bigs. This will be key, especially when Big Ten play comes around. One more inside play from that game stands out.
Look at the way Langborg spins to get off his defender. Buie was also good at this, and it is obviously an aspect that will help Langborg score.
Langborg also moved off the ball well in this game. Look at the below clip.
This movement got him to the rim, and as the game progressed, the off-ball movement allowed Langborg to create his own shots. The below clip is his first triple of the game.
What does Langborg do so well here? It starts with the movement off the ball to lose Ryan Nembhard, then when he gets the ball, Creighton is too slow to close in on him. So, Langborg drains a three.
As the game progressed, Princeton played from behind. This was when Langborg started hitting shots from outside. The first one is off the pass.
This goes back to his spot-up shooting ability, and it comes from the same spot where Langborg was killing Missouri. The next one below, though a two, shows Langborg’s ability to create shots.
Here, he creates separation and scores easily. Why was this possible? Langborg was scoring off the drive early in this game, so Creighton emphasized this, then the guard started hitting his shots. Look at the last clip below.
This is what Langborg does so well, and it shows his high IQ that develops as the game goes on. He drives, creates a switch on the Creighton defenders, sees a mismatch, then drains a three to end a scoring drought. Though Creighton was still down 13 after this shot, it shows how Langborg analyzes the game and uses it to his advantage.
The bottom line from all the clips above? Ryan Langborg is a smart basketball player who takes in the game and creates his own scoring opportunities. He will be key for the Northwestern offense next year and will be counted on to score by Chris Collins.
If the Missouri and Creighton games are any indicator, Langborg has the potential to be deadly for the Wildcats next season.