Preview: Wisconsin at No.11 Ohio State

Following an ugly home win over Minnesota three days ago, Wisconsin's tough conference road swing continues as the Badgers head to Columbus to take on No.11 Ohio State.

Wisconsin (14-6, 5-2 Big Ten) at No.11 Ohio State (15-4, 5-2 Big Ten)

Date/Time -Tuesday, January 29, 6 p.m. Central

Arena –Value City Arena (19,049)

Television - ESPN (Mike Tirico, Dan Dakich and Sam Ponder)

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

Series – Ohio State leads 88-66 (Ohio State leads 53-22 in Columbus)

Last Meeting - Wisconsin won, 63-60, on February 26, 2012 in Columbus

Wisconsin Probable Starters

1 Ben Brust (6-1 Junior Guard, 10.4 ppg)

5 Ryan Evans (6-6 Senior Forward, 10.9 ppg)

12 Traevon Jackson (6-2 Sophomore Guard, 5.8 ppg)

31 Mike Bruesewitz (6-6 Senior Forward, 7.1 ppg)

40 Jared Berggren (6-10 Senior Forward, 12.0 ppg)

Off the Bench

3 George Marshall (5-11 Freshman Guard, 5.8 ppg)

15 Sam Dekker (6-7 Freshman Forward, 9.3 ppg)

32 Zak Showalter (6-2 Freshman Guard, 2.3 ppg)

44 Frank Kaminsky (6-11 Sophomore Forward, 4.6 ppg)

Ohio State Probable Starters

1 Deshaun Thomas (6-7 Junior Forward, 20.0 ppg)

4 Aaron Craft (6-2 Junior Guard, 8.8 ppg)

12 Sam Thompson (6-7 Sophomore Forward, 7.5 ppg)

30 Evan Ravenel (6-8 Senior Forward, 6.4 ppg)

32 Lenzelle Smith (6-4 Junior Guard, 10.2 ppg)

Off the Bench

3 Shannon Scott (6-1 Sophomore Guard, 5.6 ppg)

10 LaQuinton Ross (6-3 Senior Guard, 7.8 ppg)

23 Amir Williams (6-11 Sophomore Center, 4.2 ppg)

33 Amedeo Della Valle (6-5 Freshman Guard, 2.7 ppg)

55 Trey McDonald (6-8 Sophomore Center, 1.3 ppg)

Last Time Out

COLUMBUS, Ohio (BadgerNation/AP) -Berggren was one of the key players in helping No.16 Wisconsin earn a hard fought 63-60 victory over No.8 Ohio State at Value City Arena, giving the Badgers their first road win over a Big Ten team ranked in the AP Top 10 since Jan. 26, 1980 when they beat No. 4 Ohio State, a UW team that coach Bo Ryan was an assistant on.

UW is one win from clinching a top four finish in the conference in all 11 years under Ryan because Berggren (18 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block and 1 steal) and Taylor (19 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 turnovers) took over in the final six minutes.

After Craft's jumper put Ohio State (23-6, 11-5) up eight with 8:13 to go, its largest lead of the game, the Badgers closed the game on a 21-10 run – getting 10 points from Berggren and nine from Taylor. This production came after Berggren was held to 2-for-7 shooting, 0-for-2 from three, and just four points and Taylor managed only 9 points and four turnovers against Iowa.

No shot on that final stretch was bigger for Wisconsin than Berggren. In a game that featured 22 lead changes and nine ties, Berggren drilled a 3-pointer off a high ball screen with 31 seconds left that put Wisconsin up 61-59.

"It was a big shot by him," said Taylor of the shot. "He's a really good player. He's just got to believe in himself and the sky's the limit for us."

After Thomas (game-high 23 points) threw up a wild shot from the top of the key with eight seconds left, Berggren grabbed the rebound and made two free throws to ice the game. Those almost fail to compare to his work on Sullinger.

Sullinger scored 24 points – 16 in the first half - in Ohio State's 58-52 win earlier this month, a stat that Berggren took personally. This time, Berggren and company made it a tough challenge for Sullinger by matching his aggressiveness and making him work on every shot.

As a result, Sullinger, who Ohio State coach Thad Matta said was battling a cold, was held to eight points, nine below his average, on 4-of-10 shooting.

Last Meeting

MADISON (BadgerNation) - It was slowest game of the season in Big Ten play with only 51 possessions but Wisconsin's 45-44 victory over No.12 Minnesota was big in terms of regaining a foothold in a tight conference race. It was even bigger for Jackson in his maturation process, as the sophomore hit the game winner in the final seconds.

Of the eight players who had started for Wisconsin this season, Jackson had the worst shooting percentage (33.3 percent) and second worst from 3-point range (23.1 percent). Despite having the fifth-most minute average (23.8), Jackson had the second most fouls on the team, including four against Michigan State that gave Jackson a look of bewilderment each team the official blew his whistle.

That wasn't the case against Minnesota, as Jackson scored six of his nine points in the final 7:02, committed only one foul and admitted he was hunting for his shot in a game where neither team led by more than two points the final 10 minutes.

"I felt that I needed to step up and hit the shots," Jackson said. "I don't have any fear."

Wisconsin's final two possessions was the definition of fearlessness. With a little over a minute remaining, Jackson crossed the face of Mbakwe and hit a pull up jumper in the face of Austin Hollins at the free throw line to the score for the sixth time.

The crossover worked so well on Mbakwe that he did it again one possession later, used a shot fake to get Mbakwe out of position, released the shot with less than a second left on the shot clock and gave UW the lead with 2.1 seconds left.

"A lack of discipline," said Minnesota coach Tubby Smith of Jackson's final shot. "He shot fakes (and) we jump out of the way, a mistake." After Mbakwe's jumper with 3:53 remaining gave the Gophers a 43-41 lead, Minnesota didn't hit another field goal on its final five possessions, which include a shot clock violation and an offensive foul by Andre Hollins (game-high 20 points) in the paint with 39 seconds left.

Minnesota had a chance to send the game to overtime after Mbakwe drew a foul with 1.7 seconds left, but was unable to shoot after injuring his right wrist on the play. In his place, the Badgers sent Rodney Williams – a career 57.9 free throw shooter - to the line to shoot Mbakwe's attempts.

Williams made the first but was too long on the second, allowing Wisconsin to secure the rebound and dribble out the clock.

Series Notes:

UW head coach Bo Ryan is 14-8 against Ohio State, including a mark of 10-7 against Thad Matta.

Bo Ryan-led teams are 5-4 at Value City Arena.

The Badgers won the most recent meeting, pulling out a 63-60 win at No. 8 Ohio State (2/26/12).

Last season OSU was held to 60 or fewer points in a game just 4 times. The Badgers were responsible for 2 of them, holding the Buckeyes to 58 and 60.

Bo Ryan's .710 (137-56) win percentage in Big Ten games is the best mark of any coach in history, tying OSU's Thad Matta (103-42, .710).

Ohio State and Wisconsin own the top 2 winning percentages in the Big Ten since Thad Matta took over in Columbus. The Buckeyes are 236-69 (.774) overall, 103-42 (.710) in conference. The Badgers are 214-79 (.730) overall and 102-43 (.703) in the Big Ten.

Wisconsin Notes

No team has played more AP Top-25 teams than Wisconsin, who is 3-3 vs. ranked teams on the year (3-1 in Big Ten play). UW has beaten No. 12 Illinois, No. 2 Indiana and No. 12 Minnesota within the last three weeks.

The Badgers are closing out their toughest regular-season stretch in 20 years as they face ranked teams in 5 of 6 games. The last time UW had a schedule like that was in 1992-93 when it played 5 straight top-25 teams, going 3-2.

UW's freshman duo of Sam Dekker and George Marshall have been providing a major spark off the Wisconsin bench recently. Dekker has scored in double figures in 4 of the last 5 games, while Marshall is averaging 10.7 points per game over the last three contests.

Since Bo Ryan was hired in 2001, Wisconsin has been the Big Ten's best road team, owning the most true road wins (64) and best road win percentage (.504) in the conference. In fact, in that era Wisconsin is the only Big Ten team with a road record at .500 or better.

UW is 11-1 when owning the rebound edge and 3-5 when its opponent grabs the same or more rebounds. The Badgers out-rebounded Iowa 34-33 in a losing effort. UW had won 12 straight when having an advantage on the glass prior to the Iowa game (1/19/13).

Ohio State Notes:

The Buckeyes are No. 2 in scoring defense (57.8 ppg.), No. 3 in field goal percentage defense (.379), scoring margin (15.2 ppg.), 3-point field goal percentage defense (.307) and turnover margin (+2.7) among Big Ten teams.

Ohio State's reserves have contributed 32 or more points five times. In all of last season the Buckeye bench scored 30 or more points in a game just three times. This season, Ohio State reserves provide an average of 21 points a game, outscoring opponents reserves by over seven points a game.

In the 18th game of his junior season, Aaron Craft set the Ohio State all-time steals record (209) after recording four thefts vs. Iowa Jan. 22. Jay Burson (1986-89) owned the Ohio State career record previously with 204.

Ohio State knocked down 10 of 25 treys at Michigan State Jan. 19, marking the 83rd time (71-12) in Ohio State history the Buckeyes have made 10 or more 3s in a game. The Buckeyes hit double digits once in 2011-12 (10 of 20 vs. Northwestern, 12/28/11).


In past seasons, Wisconsin's post players have been forced to deal with handfuls like Jared Sullinger, William Buford and Greg Oden underneath the basket when Ohio State comes up on the schedule. While he might not be as good of rebounder as the three previously mentioned players, Deshaun Thomas will be a handful for Wisconsin tonight.

In five of Ohio State's first seven Big Ten Conference games, Thomas has reached 20 or more points, the first Buckeyes players to do that since Jim Jackson had a five-game 20-point scoring streaks during both his junior (1992) and sophomore year.

In four career games against the Badgers, Thomas averages 10.5 points per game and is shooting 56 percent (18-for-32) over four career meetings. He also is Ohio State's rebound leader with 3.5 boards a game among current Buckeyes.

"He's talented," UW coach Bo Ryan said of Thomas. "He can score in a number of ways. He can score from the perimeter, at least in clips I've been looking at. He's a threat out on the three, and he's so strong and long."

Leading the conference in scoring with 20.0 points per game and made 3s per game with 2.6, Thomas is one of three players nationally averaging more than 20 points and 6 rebounds. One of the other players is Creighton's Doug McDermott. Wisconsin knows full way McDermott's talents, as he scored 30 points and grabbed eight rebounds in an 84-74 victory in November's Las Vegas Invitational.

"(Thomas is) like Mbakwe, whatever he's listed at, add five or six more inches because of his wing span," said Ryan. "Thomas can score in a lot of different ways, and that's what makes him a real threat."

As a ranked team, Ohio State is 21-11 in the Wisconsin series, but it's a factoid that hasn't stopped the Badgers in past years. Last season, after losing by six at home, UW overcame an 8-point deficit with 8:13 remaining to pull out the road win.

The formula then is the same as the formula now: limit turnovers, tough defense and make some shots. Wisconsin turned the ball over seven times in that meeting, which was the second-lowest total for an OSU opponent last season. The Badgers held Ohio State to 60 points, just the fourth time OSU was held to 60 or fewer points last season. Those two things have been pretty constant all season for UW.

The key, however, is shooting. The Badgers shot 41.8 percent (23-55) from the field, a number they haven't hit the past two games. Wisconsin needs to get more touches in the post to keep the defense honest, Jared Berggren has to play like the veteran he is and Wisconsin has to hit a respectable percentage.

In my mind, it's the law of averages. Yes, Thad Matta is 129-2 vs. the unranked in Columbus, but Wisconsin has nine true road wins against ranked opponents in Ryan's 11-plus seasons. Since Ohio State hasn't faced a defensive-minded team to Wisconsin's degree this year, I think the Badgers frustrate the Buckeyes' offense, limit some of the key pieces and make some big shots to earn a three-point road win.

Worgull's Record: 13-7

Points off Prediction: 220 (11 per game)

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