After an ugly, yet successful, Big Ten road debut in New Jersey a few days ago, Northwestern finds itself 1-0 in the conference with a 10-4 overall record. That's certainly respectable for a team with as much youth and uncertainty as the Wildcats.
However, Chris Collins' troops will be facing their stiffest challenge tonight at Welsh-Ryan as they take on the Wisconsin Badgers, whose only loss this season came against No. 2 Duke. Wisconsin, up to No. 4 in the most recent rankings, is led by Chicagoland native Frank Kaminsky, a 7-foot senior who averages nearly a double-double every contest.
The Badgers are a stout defensive team with a ton of size and experience, which are basically the two qualities Northwestern is severely lacking. They have rolled through their non-conference slate -- outside of the Duke game -- and destroyed Penn State in their conference opener on New Year's Eve. Wisconsin is disciplined, balanced, big and really talented and, on paper, should have its way with the Wildcats. But, as we know from last season's stunning upset in Madison, anything can happen between the lines.
Here's everything you need to know about the game:
Time: 7:30 p.m. CT
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: WGN, 720 AM in Chicagoland
Line: Northwestern is a 13.5-point underdog against one of the top teams in the country.
KenPom: Northwestern is currently 131st in the KenPom rankings, sandwiched between UC Irvine and Tulane. Meanwhile, Wisconsin is 4th, just like the Badgers' ranking in the most recent AP poll. KenPom gives Wisconsin an 89% chance of winning this game with a projected score of 64-53.
Key Stat: At 49.3%, Wisconsin is tied for the 18th-highest field goal percentage in the country with undefeated No. 3 Virginia. Conversely, Northwestern is 204th (42.9%) in the nation in shooting. The Badgers score very efficiently, which is going to be a big problem for NU.
Preview: If you're looking for more preview content, our Henry Bushnell had a quick chat with Phil Mitten of SB Nation's Wisconsin site, Bucky's 5th Quarter, about the Badgers and tonight's game. On their site, Henry answered some Northwestern questions.
Check back here right before tip to follow along with us during the game on our gamethread.