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THE STORY: The No. 11 Buckeyes have beaten Northwestern five consecutive times, including a 33-point home win in December. In that game, Ohio State held the Wildcats to just 32 percent shooting and frustrated John Shurna, now the Big Ten’s leading scorer, into a 5-of-18 shooting night. Northwestern, tied for seventh in the conference, needs a marquee win over a ranked team to boost its NCAA Tournament resume as the school chases an elusive first-ever bid. Ohio State big man Jared Sullinger was bothered by leg cramps in Sunday’s loss to Wisconsin, but is expected to play. Northwestern leads the Big Ten in 3-point shooting (averaging 8.9), while the Buckeyes allow opponents to hit just 31 percent behind the arc.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network
ABOUT OHIO STATE (23-6, 11-5 Big Ten): Deshaun Thomas has excellent season numbers (15.1 points, 53 percent field goal shooting), but lately the sophomore forward has taken his offensive prowess to another level. In the Buckeyes’ last three games, Thomas is averaging 20.6 points and burying 64 percent (23 of 36) from the field. He delivered a 23-point, 9-of-15 shooting performance in the 63-60 defeat to Wisconsin.
ABOUT NORTHWESTERN (17-11, 7-9 Big Ten): The Wildcats are at the bottom of the Big Ten defending 3-pointers, but have been much better of late. Northwestern has held its last four opponents to just 29 percent (24 of 82) behind the arc, which could come in handy against Ohio State, which struggles on 3s. Northwestern is also last in rebounding (29.8), which could be problematic against Ohio State, one of the best rebounding teams in the Big Ten (second, 36.4).
1. Aaron Craft is third in the conference in assists (4.6), and has handed out 16 in the last four games for the Buckeyes.
2. Northwestern is 1-6 against ranked teams, with the average margin of defeat 14.6 points.
3. The Wildcats are fifth in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.49.