I get to write a postseason preview about a team that actually won a game. Huzzah! Thanks to the efforts of Juice Thompson, who scored a Big Ten Tournament record high 35 points, Northwestern advances to the quarterfinals where the Wildcats will take on Ohio State.
Yes, this is the same Ohio State team that is ranked #1 in the country and is expected to be the top overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. But it also happens to be the same Ohio State team that Northwestern lost to by a single point at Welsh-Ryan Arena on Saturday, January 29.
Expect a lot of "burn" offense from the Wildcats. If Bill Carmody thought he team was undermanned back in January, wait until he starts playing this one. Also, Alex Marcotullio threw an ill-timed pass in the last game these two teams played, think he's out for a little revenge?
Northwestern vs. Ohio State
Where: Conseco Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana
What: Big Ten Quarterfinals
When: 11 a.m. CT on ESPN
Chances: 6.7% according to current Ken Pomeroy rankings
What else you need to know: Ohio State is really good. The Buckeyes feature the best freshman in the nation in Jared Sullinger, have a do-everything player in David Lighty and then throw in William Buford, Jon Diebler and Aaron Craft. Those "throw ins" are all-league players. Basically they have a little bit of everything, which is how you go 29-2 and get ranked #1. Northwestern will have to shut down the two-man game that Diebler and Sullinger like to play. Getting the freshman big man in foul trouble would help too, but it's unlikely. That said, Minnesota gave the Wildcats large lanes to slash down and they took advantage of them. The Ohio State defense is much more sound, but Northwestern has to keep that aggressive nature. Also, Nick Fruendt did some nice things as the third wing guy today. If Carmody can limit his minutes he probably can be effective. The biggest thing the Wildcats have to do though is keep this game close - within 7 points or so - and play in four minute segments. All Northwestern needs is a chance in the final two minutes or so. If it gets that, it's already a victory.