Inside The Matchup: UW

Northwestern looks to build upon its marquee upset victory over Michigan State. The Wildcats travel up north to Wisconsin for a matchup in Madison. Go inside the matchup with PurpleWildcats.com

Coming off its biggest win of the season — an 81-74 home upset of No. 6 Michigan StateNorthwestern has a lot of momentum heading forward in its Big Ten schedule.

Center Davide Curletti had a breakout game against the Spartans, and everyone contributed, as Reggie Hearn, Drew Crawford and John Shurna all had big games, as well.

Most importantly, it finally go the Wildcats a signature win.

NU has a chance to pick up another big win tonight in Madison, facing a reeling Badgers team that has had trouble scoring all season. Although the Badgers aren't as good as expected this season, a win in Madison is still impressive and could do even more to boost the Cats' NCAA Tournament hopes.

LAST MEETING:

Wisconsin swept both meetings last sweeping, blowing out the Cats 78-46 in Evanston and holding on for a 78-63 win in Madison.

KEY PLAYER FOR THE WILDCATS: Davide Curletti

Curletti put together the best game of his career against Michigan State in only his second career start. He had 17 points in 36 minutes and out-hustled MSU's big men, despite his height disadvantage.

He proved that he can shoot from anywhere on the floor, which allowed other players to get open, as he drew more attention than NU has at center all season.

Now, Curletti must prove that he can play at a high level on a consistent basis, and this game, played in a hostile environment, should provide a tough test. However, if Curletti puts up another solid performance, the NU offense can roll lik it did on Saturday, and that can make it tough for Wisconsin's offense to keep up.

KEY FOR THE BADGERS: Disrupt Northwestern's rhythm

Wisconsin won't be able to keep up in a shootout, so the Badgers will need to disrupt NU's offensive rhythm and force the Cats to take bad shots.

If NU can't run its offense and is forced to throw up threes, it won't be nearly as effective. However, if Wisconsin can't disrupt the Cats' rhythm and allows them to execute the way they did against Michigan State, NU has a great chance to win.

KEY TO A WILDCAT WIN: Move the ball

Michigan State played smothering defense on NU, but since the Spartans played so tight, the Cats were able to find open shots and lanes by moving the ball around.

NU found a number of open shots by passing the ball around the perimeter and either getting good looks from three or finding players inside on backdoor cuts.

Wisconsin will likely play a looser, more conservative style of defense against NU, meaning ball movement will be essential to try to create open shots.

The Badgers have a great defense, so the Cats will have to work for good looks, but if they can move the ball effectively like they did against MSU, they will still be able to find open looks.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN

NU will start out hot, picking up right where it left off on Saturday in jumping out to an early lead. However, the Cats will cool off a bit by halftime, allowing Wisconsin back in the game.

It will be a defensive struggle from there on out, but the Badgers won't be able to catch up as Shurna and Crawford hit some big shots down the stretch to get NU its second-straight Big Ten win.

SCORE PREDICTION: Northwestern 61, Wisconsin 55


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