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NCAA Basketball: Buckeyes Host Northwestern To Start Big Ten Play

For more on the Buckeyes, visit SB Nation's Along the Olentangy

Ohio State has won at least a share of two consecutive Big Ten championships and is favored to win a third. That titlde defense begins tonight in Columbus as the No. 2 rated Buckeyes host nCAA Tournament hopeful Northwestern. The Wildcats are not the typical Northwestern of old. They are trying to reach their first ever NCAA Tournament and already have some solid wins under their belt:

Only their second loss of the season, Northwestern has fared well against a reasonably difficult early slate, winning two of three games against the RPI Top 50. The Wildcats' other defeat, against #7 Baylor, was an entirely non-competitive game, the sole ugly blemish upon their young season. Baylor throttled them, 69-41, led by 6''7 forward Quincy Acy and shooting guard Pierre Jackson, who had 16 points apiece.

Ohio State's offense has struggled with Player of the Year candidate Jared Sullinger battling persistent injuries, and the Buckeyes will have to to play solid defense against the three-pointer to get the win. Northwestern is not afraid to slow the game down with its Princeton offense, a factor that has been big for them in past games with Ohio State.

Photographs by spatulated, Triple Tri, and chrischappelear used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.