Northwestern has played Ohio State tough in recent meetings, which is a trend coach Bill Carmody hopes will continue tonight when the No. 16 Buckeyes visit Welsh-Ryan Arena.
Tipoff is at 6 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2 and AM-560.
Although a victory by the injury-ravaged Wildcats might be too much to ask, Carmody's team needs to turn in a competitive performance after losing its last three games by a combined 80 points.
It all starts with point guard Dave Sobolewski, whose strugglessince Jared Swopshire was lost for the season with a knee injury mirrors the team.
"I told him after the game that I'm trying to help to put him in situations where he can be successful," Carmody said of Sobolewski. "He's a thinker. It's hard when you're in a little bit of a slump to bust out of it but he just has to go out there and play. He's a good basketball player. Sometimes your head can get in the way. He's trying to help other guys by thinking a couple steps ahead and you just have to go out there and play a little more loosely."
Sobolewski is averaging 10.2 points per game for the season but has scored just 12 points points in NU's last three games. He is also ranked fifth in the Big Ten with 5.9 assists per game.
Carmody said not having players such as Drew Crawford and Swopshire available allows defenses to focus on Sobolewski and senior Reggie Hearn.
"I do think on the scouting report now, he and Reggie are at the top of it," Carmody said. "Maybe when Drew was there and Swop was there they were three and four or four and five."