But the sixth-seeded Buckeyes could not muster enough offense to pull off the upset of the third-seeded Badgers.
Ohio State shot a season low 34.4 percent from the floor and fell to Wisconsin 60-49 before 21,517 at Chicago's United Center.
"We weren't as tough or as physical as we needed to be offensively," said OSU coach Thad Matta, wrapping up his first season with the Buckeyes. "We saw that whenever you had penetration against Wisconsin there would be contact. Knowing that, you have to adjust to what they're doing. It's a credit to them for what they tried to do to us tonight."
The Buckeyes (20-12) fell behind 29-18 at halftime, then rallied to tie the game twice midway through the second half. But Wisconsin outscored OSU 12-2 in the final 4:06 to win the game going away.
Zach Morley led Wisconsin (21-7) with 23 points, hitting 8 of 11 shots from the floor. He also made all six of his free throw attempts. Alando Tucker and Mike Wilkinson each had 12 points for the Badgers, who advance to meet Iowa in a semifinal game Saturday. (Illinois and Minnesota will meet in the other semifinal.)
"I thought our guys hung in there when things were not going well," UW coach Bo Ryan said. "We found a little bit of a rhythm. Ohio State made a little bit of a run in the second half and just refused to go away."
Terence Dials led Ohio State with 12 points and seven rebounds. J.J. Sullinger and Matt Sylvester each had 11 points and six rebounds. The Buckeyes were 2 of 20 (10 percent) from behind the three-point arc.
"They were just very solid defensively and they packed it in around Terence," Sylvester said. "They forced us to hit outside shots. We made our first two to open the game, then we missed our next 18. We came out without the proper intensity. We just didn't come out ready to play. You can't spot a team points like that."
Just as in the win over Penn State Thursday, the Buckeyes played a first half they would prefer to forget. They fell behind by as many as 13 points before going into the intermission down 29-18. OSU hit just 8 of its 26 shots (30.8 percent) from the floor and turned the ball over eight times.
And everything actually began well as OSU opened up an 8-2 lead to begin the game. Sullinger and Je'Kel Foster each hit three-pointers during that opening stretch.
But Wisconsin responded by scoring nine straight. Morley made four free throws and Brian Butch canned a three here as UW grabbed an 11-8 lead with 13:37 left.
Sylvester ended an OSU scoring drought of nearly seven minutes with a foul line jumper to cut the gap to 11-10 with 10:10 left.
But the Badgers outscored OSU 14-2 over the game's next seven minutes. Morley made a pair of shots during this stretch. Perhaps the crowning blow was Ivan Harris' inability to convert a wide open layup for the Buckeyes with 3:24 left, leaving OSU 5 of 20 from the floor. Mike Wilkinson's layup capped the run and put UW up 25-12 with 3:09 left.
Matta called a timeout to read his team the riot act, and they responded with six straight points. Stockman made a baseline jumper, Matt Marinchick scored off a rebound and Stockman made a driving bank shot to cut the UW lead to 25-18 with 1:52 left.
But the Badgers held strong at the end of the half. Tucker scored on a third-chance rebound and Morley had a spinning layup with 23 seconds left. Fittingly (or not fittingly), OSU's first half was capped by Stockman's airball three-pointer at the buzzer.
Ohio State opened the second half with a 10-2 run. Sylvester and Dials each had four points during this stretch, cutting the Wisconsin lead down to 31-28 with 16:03 left.
The Buckeyes drew even at 37-37 on a hook by Dials with 10:55 left. After Wilkinson had a layup for UW, Foster scored on a back door pass from Sylvester to tie the game at 39-39 with 10:08 left.
But Wisconsin took the lead for good as Morley canned a three-pointer for a 42-39 edge with 9:50 left. Wisconsin widened the gap to 48-41 after a spinning bank shot by Wilkinson with 6:32 left.
OSU made one last stand by scoring six straight. Dials had a bank shot, Sullinger tipped in a miss and Stockman made a pair of free throws to trim the gap to 48-47 with 4:20 left.
Morley then buried an 18-foot jumper and, after a miss by a driving Sylvester, Tucker scored on a lob to push the lead out to 52-47 with 3:29 left.
Sullinger flew in and scored on a rebound to cut the lead to 52-49 with 3:04 left. But that would be OSU's last field goal. Morley and Tucker each scored again as the Badgers built their lead and went on to take the 11-point win.
Stockman ended his OSU career with six points in his final game. Foster had five points and seniors Brandon Fuss-Cheatham and Marinchick each had two.
* Tracking Matta's various coaching records: His teams are now 12-2 all-time in conference tournaments, 18-6 all-time in the postseason, 11-13 against ranked teams, 17-9 on neutral floors and 25-7 in the month of March.
* This was the second time OSU and Wisconsin have met in the Big Ten tournament. Two years ago, OSU, playing as the eighth seed, upset top-seeded Wisconsin 58-50.
* Wisconsin is ranked 23rd nationally by The Associated Press. OSU was 2-4 against ranked teams this year.
* OSU is 8-7 all-time in the Big Ten tournament. Wisconsin is 8-6 in the event, winning last year's tournament title in Indianapolis.
* Sylvester summed up OSU's first 20-win season in three years.
"That was a testament to Coach and his staff," he said. "I can honestly say we have one of the best staffs in the country and I'm glad we got them in here. We had a couple of losing seasons but this is a testament to those guys."
* Dials led OSU in scoring for the 16th time and led the Buckeyes in rebounding for the 26th time in 32 games this year.