Northwestern vs. Ohio State basketball preview

USA TODAY Sports

An extremely short-handed Northwestern team heads to Columbus to face the Buckeyes, and it might get ugly.

Nothing says "Valentine's Day" like an absolutely horrific beatdown, you guys.

Ohio State is a really, really good team. DeShaun Thomas has, against my expectations from watching him early in his career, turned into a really unstoppable guy, capable of scoring with relative efficiency no matter who's guarding him, from deep and off the bounce. Aaron Craft is still an annoying defender. And everybody who isn't a big on the team can knock down shots.

Oh, but here's the real problem: they have two very competent big men in Evan Ravenel and Amir Williams. They are both large, strong, and capable of rebounding and hitting shots close to the basket. In fact, they're both good at it.

Northwestern will start - start - Michael Turner. He will likely play 30 minutes, or as many as he's humanly capable of playing without fouling out. Nikola Cerina will play the rest of the minutes at center, unless Northwestern wants to go small and bump already undersized power forward Kale Abrahamson to the five. Or they could go full little and run with an Alex Marcotullio led 1-3-1 squad until people's legs give out. Either way, with Alex Olah and Jared Swopshire out, the question of how to distribute center minutes is a game of Russian Roulette with five bullets in the chamber.

This would have been a game Northwestern was very likely to lose at full-ish strength. They aren't, and it's a potential massacre. Even if the game is close, James Montgomery III is expected to play major minutes, and since it likely won't be, dude could get a half hour of tick.

Ionno. Shock me. NU has a nine percent chance of winning per Kenpom pre-injuries, probs about two or three percent realistically without them.

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