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Northwestern vs. Ohio State, Big Ten Tournament Game Thread

We're playing with house money.

Northwestern got through their first game and likely booked an NIT bid by beating Minnesota yesterday. That was to be expected, or at least conceived as plausible.Today, they go up against the No. 1 team in the nation, Ohio State: it's the implausible of all implausibles, yet, we're here talking about it.

NU's cause for hope would be a 58-57 defeat in Evanston earlier in the year, where just about everything went right for the Cats: they successfully slowed the pace of the game to a molasses-esque 49 possessions, outrebounded OSU 22-18, grabbing eight offensive boards on 31 missed shots, and most importantly, kept Ohio State from shooting the three-ball. I've said it once and I'll say it again: Jared Sullinger can hurt Northwestern. The guy who can kill Northwestern is Jon Diebler. Yesterday, NU looked to limit offensive post play and force Minnesota to shoot: that would be the dumbest strategy possible against a team capable of shooting the lights out. You don't care if Sullinger drops 25, because he'll drop 25 whether you put Luka Mirkovic or Reggie Hearn on him. But Diebler's scoring comes and goes, and it turns out he has 30 and 27 in his last two games. NU must control the perimeter as they did last game - look for them to come out in an aggressive matchup zone set while letting Mirkovic and Curletti rack up fouls against Sullinger.

Last time NU played Ohio State, I wrote at length in the preview about how you never know what could happen. About how rare it is to have the No. 1 team in your building. And NU almost made it happen.

We're playing with house money.

There's a world out there. Somebody's got to shock it.

Go Cats, yo.