Northwestern (16-8 overall, 4-7 Big Ten) travels to Columbus on Tuesday to take on an Ohio State (14-10, 6-5) team that has lost four of its last five.
After starting Big Ten play with three consecutive victories, the Buckeyes have struggled to pick up wins against the better teams in the conference. Ohio State finds itself just outside the NCAA tournament picture following a rough stretch of games against Maryland (twice) and Purdue, among other opponents. With only seven games remaining, the Buckeyes simply cannot afford to drop this game if they're going to get back on the right side of the bubble.
Northwestern comes into the matchup with a bit of confidence. A comfortable 82-58 victory on Thursday over lowly Minnesota ended a season-long losing streak at five. A win over Ohio State would inject new life into a season that has sputtered after a promising start.
In the first matchup between these two teams at Welsh-Ryan a month ago, Ohio State pulled away in the second half and emerged as the winners of a relatively close 65-56 affair. Sophomore Kam Williams led the Buckeyes with 21 points and hit five three-pointers. Bryant McIntosh scored 15 points to pace the Wildcats but shot only 5-of- from the field 15. Ohio State's length and athleticism on the perimeter bothered Northwestern's guards; McIntosh's backcourt mate, Tre Demps, made only three of his 17 field goal attempts.
As far as pregame reading/listening goes, we've got you covered:
The Inside NU staff debates how important an NIT berth would be for Northwestern.
Tristan Jung previews the matchup in-depth with a focus on if Northwestern's backcourt can continue its strong play—Tre Demps and Bryant McIntosh combined for 43 points in the win over Minnesota—and carry the Wildcats to an upset victory.
Our Zach Pereles, Josh Burton and Ian McCafferty discuss Northwestern hoops (and lacrosse) on the latest Pound The Talk podcast.