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Ohio State men’s basketball vs Northwestern: Game preview, prediction

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The Buckeyes look to bounce back after back-to-back losses last week

NCAA Basketball: Ohio State at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Ohio State Buckeyes are back in action tonight at 8:30 p.m. ET when they take on the Northwestern Wildcats in Columbus. The game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.

The Buckeyes come into the matchup at 16-9 overall and 6-8 in conference while the Wildcats are 12-13 overall and just 3-11 in conference. This is a must win for the Buckeyes with them taking on one of the worst teams in the conference at home. They need to win this game to keep them on the right side of the bubble.

They had a great opportunity last week to grab a win at home and then pull off an upset at Michigan State but those opportunities were squandered. Scoring woes plagued the Buckeyes in both and they lost 63-56 to Illinois and 62-44 to the Spartans. They had the game tied late in the second half at 42 in East Lansing but they let Michigan State finish on a 20-2 run and scored just 13 points in the second half.


Preview

Ohio State and Northwestern have not yet played this season. They will take on each other again Wednesday, March 6 at Northwestern. The Buckeyes come into this one a heavy favorite but as last week’s loss to Illinois at home proved, anything is possible this year in the Big Ten.

Northwestern comes into this one on a six game losing streak after they defeated Indiana 73-66 and have really struggled to put points on the board. Veteran forward Vic Law is leading the Wildcats in points with 15.5 per game but is only shooting 39 percent from the field. The only other two Wildcats averaging double figures is Dererk Pardon and Ryan Taylor, averaging 13.6 and 11.1 respectively. Pardon is also leading the team in rebounds at 7.8 per game and Vic Law is second on the team at 6.6 per game.

For the Buckeyes, they have been led by forward Kaleb Wesson. He is leading the team in points and rebounds at 14.4 and 6.4 on the season while shooting 52 percent from the field. However, the younger Wesson has struggled to stay on the court with foul trouble and when he goes to the bench, that forces the Buckeyes to turn to a smaller lineup, allowing the opponent to pound the paint and score seemingly at will.

Senior guard CJ Jackson is also averaging 12.8 points per game while leading the team in assists (3.5) and steals (1.2) per game. The Buckeyes will need role players like Musa Jallow, Keyshawn Woods and Duane Washington to provide valuable minutes and help take some of the scoring load off of Jackson, Wesson, Andre Wesson and Luther Muhammad.

Sophomore Kyle Young has proven to be of immense value to the Buckeyes, quickly becoming the “glue guy” and helping the Buckeyes win with his defense on bigger guys, rebounding, hustle and helping spread the floor.

On paper, this is a fairly even match up. The Wildcats are scoring 67.0 and only giving up 64.5 per game. Ohio State is averaging 70.6 and giving up 64.6 per game. However, the Buckeyes are averaging just 51.6 points per game over the last three contests and are 1-2. If the Buckeyes want to win some games down the stretch, they must figure out what is wrong with their offense and make the necessary adjustments.

LGHL Prediction: Ohio State 74, Northwestern 68