Preview: Ohio State vs. Northwestern

By Corey Carpenter on March 6, 2009 at 7:00a
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Handsome BJ can smell the greenIs this the last home game for Mullens?
Ohio State Buckeyes Ohio State 19-9, 9-8 Big Ten Roster | Schedule 5:00 PM ET - BTN —— The Schott Columbus, OH Northwestern Wildcats Northwestern 17-11, 8-9 Big Ten Roster | Schedule

It is senior night on Sunday, for the managers, as the Bucks look to secure their NCAA tournament bid.

Win this game and Ohio State likely ends up with the 6th seed in next week's B10 tournament and an 8-10 seed in the dance, lose it and they potentially could drop all the way to 8th.

Northwestern is not the push over they used to be, beating Ohio State 72-69 a few weeks ago on a last second three and taking down Purdue in West Lafayette Wednesday night.

#NamePTSREBASSTPOS#NamePTSREBASST
4 PJ Hill 2.8 1.4 1.6 G 22 Michael Thompson 10.1 2.0 3.9
33 Jon Diebler 11.3 3.4 2.5 G 20 Craig Moore 14.3 3.2 2.8
21 Evan Turner 16.8 7.1 3.8 F 44 Kevin Coble 15.4 4.8 2.5
44 William Buford 11.1 3.4 1.2 F 24 John Shurma 7.7 3.0 1.0
52 Dallas Lauderdale 4.6 3.7 0.3 C 54 Kyle Rowley 3.9 1.9 0.6

Opponent

I must admit, I did not get to watch any of the first matchup and with all due respect to Northwestern, I can't watch them play in any other games. For me, it is just a boring style of play, but I'm sure the Cats will find a way to keep this one close for a while. The Wildcats come in scoring 62.5 points a game in conference play, shooting an overall 43.4 percent from the floor and 37.6 percent from deep.

Northwestern connected on 13 of their 25 three point tries in the first meeting with OSU and rank just behind Michigan atop the league with 8.06 bombs made per game. The Wildcats also pass the ball very well and don't turn it over. Their 15 assists per game rank them second, behind Illinois, but the most impressive stat with the Cats is their 9.9 TO's a contest, leading to a +4.59 in TO margin.

The Cats' big three will all play at least 35 minutes in this one, with a mixture of 5-6 guys rotating in along side them. No one coming off the bench scores more than 4 points a game, so look for one of their reserves to have a career night against the Bucks zone.

Buckeye Breakdown:

The players know what is at stake here and I have a funny feeling Evan Turner is not going to let Ohio State lose this one. He was putting on a clinic in Iowa City (except for the last 40 seconds), essentially willing his team to a victory and once again proving why he should be Big 10 POY.

It's amazing Ohio State is still shooting over 50 percent in league play and lead the conference in made field goals, but yet sit just one game above .500. That's what will happen when you play a style of defense that allows open 3-point shots and plenty of offensive rebounds. The Buckeyes still sit second to last in scoring defense at 65.3 points a game, while allowing teams to shoot 44 percent from the floor, including 39 percent from deep. Four of the last five opponents have connected on at least 41 percent of their 3-point attempts.

Will this be the last game at the Schott for BJ Mullens, William Buford or Evan Turner? According to yesterday's poll results, many of you think BJ will return for his sophomore season, I hope we're right. There are obvious aspects of his game that still need developed, but the lure of being a millionaire at the tender age of 19 might be too much to pass up for a kid from Canal Winchester. I think Turner and Buford are more likely to come back. Buford simply isn't ready and Turner could be an All-American if he returns next season.

I just have a good feeling about this game. Ohio State will be seeking revenge in their final home game and a victory almost assures them of a dance ticket. They know deep down they can handle the Wildcats, it just takes a little patience, ya-ya, just a little patience to come out on top, which they will do, 68-59.

Etc

  • A victory will give Thad his 9th straight 20 win season to start his career.
  • Buford needs 15 points to enter the top 10 in all-time freshmen scoring at Ohio State.
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