The Northwestern Wildcats are 13-13 (4-9) in the Big 10 and take on the Wisconsin Badgers (tied for third in the Big 10) Wednesday night in a game that the Badgers should win easily – which is exactly the problem. The Badgers should win easily. However, Wisconsin has struggled against up-and-down teams like Northwestern losing to Big 10 teams like Minnesota, Iowa, and Ohio State.
Unfortunately for Wisconsin, Northwestern has a habit of beating teams just when they start to get hot. When the Illinois Fighting Illini started to win again and ended up ranked No. 23, the Wildcats went to Illinois and beat them. When the Minnesota Gophers were ranked No. 12 and seemed to be headed for a Big 10 title showdown with Indiana, the Wildcats beat the Gophers easily at home. Now that Wisconsin is in contention for the Big 10 title, this is the exact kind of game that the Wildcats specialize in winning. When Northwestern plays well, it can compete with the top teams in the Big 10.
A loss would be devastating to the Badgers. So close to a Big 10 title and a high NCAA seed, a loss to a team with as low of an RPI as Northwestern would destroy their seeding potential. Wisconsin expects to win this game, but they cannot already start dreaming of the Big 10 title, because Northwestern has proven that it is capable of beating teams that take the Wildcats too lightly. Wisconsin must play at their best, because Northwestern is not Penn State, and this game is not an automatic victory.