18 January 2010

Countdown to Northwestern at Ohio State

Northwestern (13-4, 2-3 Big Ten) travels to Columbus to take on #21 Ohio State (13-5, 3-3) on Tuesday January 19 at 6:00PM Central. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network and radio coverage is on WCPT (click here for a link to their website for more info) and wgnradio.com.

Ohio State leads the series 112-45. Last year the two teams split the season series with each team successfully defending its home court. Northwestern's victory at the Welsh marked the first time Coach Carmody had defeated the Buckeyes and snapped NU's 17 game losing streak to OSU.

Last year's game at Value City Arena was the last game of the regular season and had NCAA implications for both teams. The game was a series of spurts. The Buckeyes stormed out to a 21-6 lead, but NU answered with nine straight points. OSU then closed with the final four points to lead 25-15 at half.

The second half began with a big Northwestern run which culminated with a 28-27 lead at the 12 minute mark. The teams then battled back and fourth with NU holding a 2 point lead at the 3:30 mark on the strength of a Juice Thompson four point play. The rest of the game was all Buckeyes as Diebler responded with a trey to retake the lead and Evan Turner doing his thing by imposing his will down the stretch to build upon the Buckeye lead.

Earlier this season Ohio State had to make due without Evan "Mr Everything" Turner's services for about a month after he broke two bones in his back during a scary looking fall in a 111-60 rout of Eastern Michigan. Mr Turner returned on Jan 6 against Indiana and now has four post-injury games under his belt. It is safe to say that Turner is back to form as he was personally responsible for negating a record setting first half for Robbie Hummel and handing then #6 Purdue a home loss.

OSU's only game since that glorious road victory was a home victory against then #13 Wisconsin. The win kept the Buckeyes home winning streak alive which stretches back to last season.

What to expect? The good news is that Ohio State is probably feeling pretty full of themselves after consecutive victories against ranked opponents that have put them solidly into the NCAA tournament. The bad news is that they have Evan Turner who is a shoo-in for "Mr. Big Ten" and routinely takes over games. Two of the main reasons why NU hung tough with OSU last year (Moore and Coble) are not playing in this game so NU will need some new heroes on Tuesday night.

A Wildcat victory is not expected so Northwestern should play loose and perhaps with a bounce in their step after defeating then #6 Purdue this past Saturday. If NU can stay mentally and physically tough then anything is possible.