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Piecing Together Northwestern's Lineup Against Ohio State

by Kevin Trahan (@k_trahan)

Tweets this morning from Teddy Greenstein officially conveyed what we already figured was likely: Alex Olah and Jared Swopshire will both miss Thursday's game at Ohio State.

If there's any good news for Northwestern, it's that Olah should be back by the end of the season. The Swopshire news, however, doesn't sound good, and it sure didn't look good as he was helped off the court after Saturday's game, unable to put any weight on his right leg (his knee is what's injured).

So what does this mean? Well first off, there's this:

NU was already going to be without two of those players (Drew Crawford and JerShon Cobb), and without Olah and Swopshire in the frontcourt, it's going to be very difficult for NU to get a win. What's amazing is this team was supposed to have so much depth heading into the season. Now, things have gotten so bad that Bill Carmody said following Saturday's loss to Iowa that NU will, "just have to figure out what we have on Monday and try to get a lineup out there to go to Ohio State on Thursday."

Piecing together a lineup will be very tough, especially in the frontcourt. Three positions — the guards — will stay the same, with Dave Sobolewski, Tre Demps and Reggie Hearn starting. The next two positions are where things get tricky. Kale Abrahamson, who started earlier in the year but lost that starting spot to Demps, likely will start at forward, while Mike Turner will likely start at center. The problem is, that leaves just one more forward — Nikola Cerina — and one more guard — Alex Marcotullio — to come off the bench.

Looking at the forward rotation, it's tough to tell what Carmody will do.

- Turner has struggled mightily this year, and that was true again against Iowa. He tends to get in foul trouble, so Carmody probably won't be able to play him that long even if he wants to.

- Abrahamson hasn't played many minutes recently, but he'll have to in this one, and he'll probably have the most minutes out of the three remaining players in the frontcourt.

- Carmody has been very reluctant to play Cerina, who has been coming back from an ankle injury. He's played sparingly recently and played just three minutes against Iowa, despite the injuries. His minutes should go up a little bit for this game, but don't expect him to see a ton of time.

The major issue is that right now, NU's four best players are guards. However, it's very tough to put those four — Sobolewski, Demps, Hearn and Marcotullio — all on the floor at the same time without a solid rebounder. Even if those four played with Swopshire on the court, NU wouldn't be able to stick with that lineup for long.

Simply put, it looks like we'll see a lot of Abrahamson and a lot of Turner, meaning Turner must stay out of foul trouble, while still being aggressive. We'll likely see a bit more of Cerina, but considering recent trends, it's doubtful that Carmody plays him as much as the other forwards. In the case of the guards, Sobolewski and Hearn will get a lot of minutes, and so will Demps and Marcotullio to a little lesser extent.

With so many injuries, NU is going to have a very tough time winning this game. The frontcourt will have to exceed expectations and the guards will have to shoot the lights out. That's not a knock on NU, just the reality for any team this depleted heading into a matchup with Ohio State.