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A recent approach-COPE, presented by Katti (Proc. ACM SIGCOMM 2006, pp. 243-254)-for improving the throughput of unicast traffic in wireless multihop networks exploits the broadcast nature of the wireless medium through opportunistic network coding. In this paper, we analyze throughput improvements obtained by COPE-type network coding in wireless networks from a theoretical perspective. We make two key contributions. First, we obtain a theoretical formulation for computing the throughput of network coding on any wireless network topology and any pattern of concurrent unicast traffic sessions. Second, we advocate that routing be made aware of network coding opportunities rather than, as in COPE, being oblivious to it. More importantly, our model considers the tradeoff between routing flows close to each other for utilizing coding opportunities and away from each other for avoiding wireless interference. Our theoretical formulation provides a method for computing source-destination routes and utilizing the best coding opportunities from available ones so as to maximize the throughput. We handle scheduling of broadcast transmissions subject to wireless transmit/receive diversity and link interference in our optimization framework. Using our formulations, we compare the performance of traditional unicast routing and network coding with coding-oblivious and coding-aware routing on a variety of mesh network topologies, including some derived from contemporary mesh network testbeds. Our evaluations show that a route selection strategy that is aware of network coding opportunities leads to higher end-to-end throughput when compared to coding-oblivious routing strategies.