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Northwestern-Wisconsin GameThread

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Northwestern tries to climb above .500 in Big Ten play

Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

The Northwestern Wildcats (14-3, 2-2 Big Ten) play host to the Wisconsin Badgers (9-8, 1-3 Big Ten) at Welsh-Ryan Arena, seeking to climb above .500 in the Big Ten and win their first home conference game this year.

The Wildcats remain without Alex Olah, but the Romanian center once again took part in partial warmups. Northwestern will depend on Joey van Zegeren and Dererk Pardon in the post to battle freshman Ethan Happ, who has played very well as of late, most recently putting up 16 points in a heartbreaking loss against Maryland. Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes, two key returners from last year's national runner-up squad, are the Badgers' two leading scorers, but both have had some struggles. Nevertheless, the sharpshooting Koenig and physically-imposing Hayes will present tough matchups as well.

For Northwestern, the key will be the three ball once again. The Wildcats knocked down 11 long balls at Minnesota but just eight combined in the two games before that, losses to Maryland and Ohio State. Tre Demps, who had 13 points against the Golden Gophers, struggled mightily in the games against the Terrapins and the Buckeyes. If Northwestern wants to pull out what is a key game for its March hopes, it needs the senior shooting guard to play well. The Wildcats also need some semblance of an inside presence on offense, and the Wildcats need their bench players to play well, too. At The Barn on Saturday, Scottie Lindsey and Nathan Taphorn combined for 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting.

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