Northwestern comes into their toughest game of the year on an eight game-losing streak and on the heels of lackluster performances against both Purdue and Nebraska.
They'll have their hands full against a fifth-ranked Wisconsin team that's 20-2 and the best offensive team in the country. In fact, Wisconsin is putting together one of the greatest offensive seasons in college basketball history. If the season ended today, the Badgers would have the best-ever offensive efficiency rating for an entire season at 124.9.
They're led by Frank Kaminsky, who's probably the favorite to win Player of the Year and should be a first round pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. Sam Dekker teams up with Kaminsky to form one of the best frontcourt one-two punches in college basketball. Northwestern fans will remember when Dekker caught fire in Wisconsin's 81-58 blowout win over Northwestern and essentially put the game out of reach in the first five minutes.
Northwestern will need to play its best game to have a chance against Wisconsin, and that still might not be enough. Last time the teams played, Northwestern let Wisconsin shoot threes because Chris Collins thought a cold shooting night would give Northwestern its best chance to win the game. It'll be interesting to see if that's the route Northwestern takes again, as they're simply not talented or good enough to beat Wisconsin conventionally.
Nathan Taphorn returned to practice this week but will not play against Wisconsin. It's likely that the coaching staff thinks it's not worth it to have Taphorn return prematurely in a game in which the odds are so heavily stacked against them.