Preview: No.16 Wisconsin at No.8 Ohio State

Hoping to keep its faint Big Ten championship hopes alive, No.16 Wisconsin looks to get back on track and even up the season series against No.8 Ohio State in Columbus Sunday.

No.16 Wisconsin (20-8, 9-6 Big Ten) vs. No.8 Ohio State (23-5, 11-4 Big Ten)

Date/Time - Sunday, February 26, 3 p.m. Central

Arena – Value City Arena (19,049)

Television - CBS (Tim Brando and Mike Gminski)

Radio - Wisconsin Radio Network (Matt Lepay and Mike Lucas)

Series – Ohio State tied 83-65 (Ohio State leads 50-22 in Columbus)

Last Meeting – Ohio State won, 58-52, on February 4, 2012 in Madison

Wisconsin Probable Starters

5 Ryan Evans (6-6 Junior Forward, 10.7 ppg)

11 Jordan Taylor (6-1 Senior Guard, 14.1 ppg)

21 Josh Gasser (6-3 Sophomore Guard, 7.9 ppg)

31 Mike Bruesewitz (6-6 Junior Forward, 6.4 ppg)

40 Jared Berggren (6-10 Junior Forward, 10.3 ppg)

Off the Bench

1 Ben Brust (6-1 Sophomore Guard, 8.3 ppg)

12 Traevon Jackson (6-2 Freshman Guard, 1.4 ppg)

33 Rob Wilson (6-4 Senior Guard, 2.6 ppg)

44 Frank Kaminsky (6-11 Freshman Forward, 2.1 ppg)

Ohio State Probable Starters

0 Jared Sullinger (Sophomore Forward, 17.2 ppg)

1 Deshaun Thomas (Sophomore Forward, 14.8 ppg)

4 Aaron Craft (Sophomore Guard, 8.3 ppg)

32 Lenzelle Smith Jr. (Sophomore Guard, 6.0 ppg)

44 William Buford (Senior Guard, 15.1 ppg)

Off the Bench

12 Sam Thompson (Freshman Forward, 2.6 ppg)

15 J.D. Weatherspoon (Sophomore Forward, 3.6 ppg)

30 Evan Ravenel (Junior Forward, 4.0 ppg)

Last Time Out

Iowa CITY, Iowa - Go figure that as soon as No.16 Wisconsin finds its shooting touch, it runs into a road buzz saw of epic proportions.

Wisconsin shot 57.7 percent in the first half and 50.9 percent overall, but was down as many as 13 points after halftime because Iowa, more specifically senior Matt Gatens, simply couldn't miss.

The Hawkeyes senior guard scored a career-high 33 points on his own bobblehead night, production that allowed Iowa to go the final 7:29 without a field goal and still win a wire-to-wire 67-66 decision over Wisconsin in front of a 14,248 fans at Carver-Hawkeye Arena Thursday.

As a result, Wisconsin (20-8, 9-6 Big Ten) had its faint conference title hopes all but extinguished, were swept in the regular season by the Hawkeyes (15-13, 7-8) for the first time in the 1994-95 season and allowed the most points by an opposing player since Kansas State's Jacob Pulled scored 38 in the third round of last year's NCAA Tournament.

The Badgers got 14 points each from Gasser and Ryan Evans, who scored in double figures for the seventh straight game but scored only four points the final 35:29.

Senior Jordan Taylor hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer or with under 33 seconds left for the third straight visit to Iowa City, but he was for all intensive purposes invisible throughout most of the game – finishing with 9 points and four turnovers in just 29 minutes plagued with foul trouble.

Iowa shot 57.1 percent in the first half, 7-for-10 from 3-point range and Gatens, who scored a then-career high 30 points against Indiana Sunday, dropped 18 points – including running his total to 12 consecutive 3-pointers made dating back to Sunday before missing in the second half.

After limiting Gatens to 2-for-9 shooting and six points in the team's first meeting in Madison, the senior equaled that total in the first 180 seconds with a pair of 3-pointers and only cooled during the first 20 minutes when he took a one-minute bench breather.

"He got hot," said UW coach Bo Ryan. "He's on a consistent streak. He's playing really well, and we knew it. You have to give a guy credit when he can knock those down."

Not only was Iowa's 43 first-half points the most UW has allowed all year, it's more than what seven opponents scored in 40 minutes against the Badgers, putting a severe dent in Wisconsin's nation-leading 51.1 points per game.

While the amount of fast-break opportunities was the problem in the first meeting, the problem this time was the turnovers. Averaging 8.96 turnovers a game, second best in the country, Wisconsin's 11 first-half turnovers helped pave the way to 12 points off miscues.

- By Benjamin Worgull – Badgernation.com/AP

Last Meeting

No.3 Ohio State (20-3, 8-2 Big Ten) ended UW's winning streak at six games, maintained sole possession of first place and won at the Kohl Center for the first time since 2000. Meanwhile, Wisconsin (18-6, 7-4) dropped into third place despite holding the third-ranked team in the country – a unit that averaged 77.8 points per game – to a season-low 58 points.

"Everybody was getting open looks and we've got to knock them down," said a frustrated Mike Bruesewitz, as No.19 Wisconsin missed 22 three-pointers in a 58-52 loss to No.3 Ohio State Saturday. "We were put in position … we just got to knock shots down when we are open."

Because of it, the Badgers lost at least four games at home for the first time since the 1997-98 season - a year in which Wisconsin went 12-19, 3-13 in the Big Ten and 7-8 at home – and allow three Big Ten teams to get their first win at the Kohl Center with Bo Ryan being the UW coach.

Wisconsin added to its home legacy last season with a four-point upset over then-No.1 Ohio State, and had opportunities to do it again in the rematch … but it never made a shot. With the Buckeyes seemingly daring the Badgers to hit an open look, Wisconsin shot 2-for-14 from three (14.3 percent) in the first half and 3-for-13 in the second half (23.1 percent).

It also didn't help that Ohio State's two key contributors are leaps and bounds better than last season.

Sullinger spurred the NBA last season so he could continue to develop his game. Not only did he shed the freshman 15 (plus roughly 10 more), he became twice the player, scoring a game-high 24 points on 8-for-16 shooting, including 8-for-10 from the line, and grabbed 10 rebounds.

Sophomore Aaron Craft was a non-factor offensively – just three points on one made field goal – but it was his defensive work against Jordan Taylor that yielded dividend. A year after Taylor was able to shake Craft with his dribble and create open looks for himself with high ball screens, Taylor could only manage 12 points on 4-for-10 shooting.

After not having a turnover since the 19:40 mark in the second half against Northwestern, Taylor had three against the Buckeyes – the most damaging coming with 1:25 remaining when he was whistled for traveling.

"Kind of disappointing," said Taylor. "I felt I could of made more shots, been more aggressive in the second half but there's nothing I can do about it now."

Deshaun Thomas added 16 points and the Buckeyes hit 13 of 16 free-throw attempts – a stark comparison to Taylor hitting all three of UW's free throws. Still, Wisconsin had a chance, thanks to junior Mike Bruesewitz.

Just like he did the year before, Bruesewitz attempted to carry a limping Wisconsin to the finish line. After hitting a key three-pointer last year to give UW a five-point lead with 30 seconds left, Bruesewitz came to life in the second half. He scored nine of his 11 points after halftime, scored six of his points off offensive rebounds and hit a three-pointer with 3:46 left.

That followed his block of Sullinger and a defensive rebound - one of a game-high 11 rebounds he grabbed in the game – to give UW some life.

Problem was UW's next three possessions were a Taylor turnover, a Bruesewitz missed three-pointer and another Taylor turnover, as Ohio State went on a 5-0 run jumpstarted by a big three-pointer by William Buford (4-for-15, 11 points). Wisconsin closed the game by missing its last three three-pointers.

- By Benjamin Worgull – Badgernation.com

Series Notes:

UW head coach Bo Ryan is 13-8 against Ohio State, including a mark of 9-7 against Thad Matta.

Bo Ryan-led teams are 4-4 at Value City Arena.

Bo Ryan (129-54, .705) and Thad Matta (96-39, .711) own the top two Big Ten winning percentages of all time (minimum 5 years).

Ohio State and Wisconsin own the top 2 winning percentages in the Big Ten since Thad Matta took over in Columbus. The Buckeyes are 213-62 (.775) overall, 96-39 (.711) in conference. The Badgers are 194-71 (.732) overall and 94-41 (.696) in the Big Ten.

Wisconsin Notes

The Badgers are on a record-setting pace at the defensive end, allowing opponents a nation's-low 51.7 points per game. UW also ranks 6th in the NCAA in FG defense (37.7%), 2nd in 3-point FG defense (.279) and 4th in defensive points per possession (0.87).

The Badgers are 5-3 in Big Ten road games, and 8-4 overall away from the Kohl Center (road/neutral). Since Bo Ryan took over, Wisconsin has the most road wins and best road winning percentage among Big Ten teams (61-60, .504)

Wisconsin has qualified for each of the last 13 consecutive NCAA tournaments, the 4th-longest active streak in the country. UW is 14-10 in the NCAA under Bo Ryan, winning at least one game in 9 of the 10 NCAA appearances. Among Big Ten teams, only Michigan St. (19) has won more NCAA tourney games than Wisconsin since 2001-02.

Wisconsin is 15-1 this season when posting a higher shooting percentage than its opponent. Prior to the loss at Iowa on Feb. 23 when UW shot 50.9 percent and Iowa shot 48.0 percent, the Badgers had won 54 consecutive games when out-shooting the other team. Prior to Feb. 23, UW's last loss when recording a higher FG percent was a 73-69 overtime loss at Iowa on Jan. 21, 2009.

Ohio State Notes:

OSU's senior day honors just one player and William Buford will finish his career as one of the Top 5 all-time scorers and among the all-time wins leaders (108) in Ohio State history. He enters the game today with 1,846 career points, No. 6 all time. His 600 career rebounds places him among the Top 20 in that category as well. He will finish his time in Columbus as one of 24 players in Ohio State history with more than 1,000 points and 500 rebounds. He is just one of four players with 1,000 points, 500 boards and 300 assists.

In the last 10 games, Aaron Craft leads the starters from the field, shooting 53 percent (24-45). Four starters are shooting better than 75 percent from the foul line with William Buford leading at 89 pct. (16- 18) and Deshaun Thomas shooting at an 80 percent clip (27-34). Jared Sullinger is the leading scorer with 16.8 points and 8.6 rebounds. Both Thomas (13.9 ppg.) and Buford (14.5 ppg.) over the last 10 games.

Thad Matta has finished off the home season with a win in each of his seven previous seasons in Columbus. Three times the Buckeyes have defeated ranked teams, two of those were No. 1 at the time. This is the third time Ohio State has ended the home campaign against Wisconsin with Matta as the Buckeyes' head coach.

Ohio State is one of the nation's leaders vs. opponents ranked among the Top 25 with five victories in nine tries this season.

Prediction

"Some of these bush-league coaches are beating on him just to make him lose his cool. I have no problem as long as it's within the spirit of the game. But during a recent game, everyone elbowed him in the back on purpose when they came through. The first time you see it you can say it's an accident. The second time it's a pattern; third time, it's a program."

That comment was uttered to the Columbus Dispatch by Satch Sullinger, father of Jared Sullinger, and a comment that indirectly refers to Wisconsin. Congrats Satch, you just made your son sound like a whiner … worst than what he sounded like when he complained that some student spit on him following UW's court-storming win last February. Kohl Center surveillance video showed nothing of the sort and the comments by Satch make Sullinger look soft and unprepared to handle the physicality of not only the Big Ten, but the NBA.

What makes the comment even more humorous is that if Satch was referring to Wisconsin, he obviously was clueless as to what was happening on the Kohl Center. Sullinger dominated Wisconsin and scored 24 points in the Buckeyes' 58-52 victory on Feb. 4 at the Kohl Center, making Jared Berggren look foolish in the first half and causing UW to have to reconfigure its defense against him.

Berggren figures to be a key figure in UW's upcoming contest at Ohio State, as his recent scoring might help him against the Buckeyes. Berggren has scored in double figures in three of his last four games, with the lone exception a nine-point affair at Minnesota. Berggren, though, hasn't been a big help on the boards during an eight-game segment, other than a 10-board effort against Penn State in the first meeting. Berggren has a total of 24 rebounds besides the PSU road game during his last eight games. In Wisconsin's 65-55 win over Penn State on Feb. 19, Berggren hit all three of his shots from beyond the arc for 13 points and six rebounds.

The thing that stands out is that Wisconsin has gone to Columbus twice on the Buckeyes' senior day and fallen short, including last year's Jon Diebler 3-point barrage. This time, I expect it to be the Buford show. Since Value City Arena Opened for the 1998-99 season, no Ohio State player has scored more points in Columbus than William Buford (1,034). Buford is the only Buckeye to score 200 or more points in each of four seasons at home. Buford is also averaging 12.4 points and 6.7 rebounds in seven meetings against the Badgers.

Wisconsin won't be able to equal that firepower and will fall by 14.

Worgull's Record: 23-5

Points off Prediction: 257 (9.18 per game)


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