Preview: No.13 Ohio State at No.20 Wisconsin

With both teams sitting two-and-a-half games behind the leaders in the Big Ten standings, No.13 Ohio State and No.20 Wisconsin have a lot to play for Sunday afternoon at the Kohl Center in the final regular season meeting between both teams.

No.13 Ohio State (18-6, 8-4 Big Ten) at No.20 Wisconsin (17-8, 8-4 Big Ten)

Date/Time -Sunday, February 17, 12 p.m. Central

Arena –Kohl Center (17,230)

Television - CBS (Tim Brando and Bill Raftery)

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

Series – Ohio State leads 84-66 (Wisconsin leads 45-31 in Madison)

Last Meeting - Ohio State won, 58-49, on January 29, 2013 in Columbus

Wisconsin Probable Starters

1 Ben Brust (6-1 Junior Guard, 11.2 ppg)

5 Ryan Evans (6-6 Senior Forward, 10.6 ppg)

12 Traevon Jackson (6-2 Sophomore Guard, 6.2 ppg)

31 Mike Bruesewitz (6-6 Senior Forward, 6.9 ppg)

40 Jared Berggren (6-10 Senior Forward, 11.7 ppg)

Off the Bench

3 George Marshall (5-11 Freshman Guard, 4.8 ppg)

15 Sam Dekker (6-7 Freshman Forward, 9.0 ppg)

32 Zak Showalter (6-2 Freshman Guard, 2.1 ppg)

44 Frank Kaminsky (6-11 Sophomore Forward, 4.7 ppg)

Ohio State Probable Starters

1 Deshaun Thomas (6-7 Junior Forward, 20.2 ppg)

4 Aaron Craft (6-2 Junior Guard, 9.5 ppg)

12 Sam Thompson (6-7 Sophomore Forward, 7.0 ppg)

30 Evan Ravenel (6-8 Senior Forward, 5.4 ppg)

32 Lenzelle Smith Jr. (6-4 Junior Guard, 10.3 ppg)

Off the Bench

3 Shannon Scott (6-1 Sophomore Guard, 4.8 ppg)

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

23 Amir Williams (6-11 Sophomore Center, 4.5 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

MINNEAPOLIS (BadgerNation) - Shooting only 30.5 percent from the floor, including a dismal 10 percent in overtime, No.20 Wisconsin's climb toward the top of the conference stalled with a 58-53 overtime loss to a desperate Minnesota team at Williams Arena.

Freshman Sam Dekker led Wisconsin with 14 points and junior Ben Brust – fresh off being named the conference's co-player of the week – added 11, but it was a lack of offense from others and the miscues that put Wisconsin (17-8, 8-4 Big Ten) in a three-way tie for third place in the Big Ten, two games behind No.1 Indiana and No.8 Michigan State.

The Badgers had never played three straight overtime games until Thursday night, but failed to execute the types of things down the stretch that pushed the Badgers into the national rankings for the first time since late November. Against Iowa and then-No.3 Michigan, Wisconsin was able to fight out of inconsistent shooting to make a big shot or a big defensive stop in the extra frame.

The game even had an eerie feel to last year's meeting north of the border. In that contest, the Badgers led by as many as 13 points, but Wisconsin missed nine straight shots to end regulation. The Badgers recovered that time, scoring 15 of their 17 overtime points from the line in a 68-61 victory. No such luck this time with Wisconsin finishing 1-for-10 in the extra session and attempted just four free throws.

When it boiled down to it, the scoring issues went back farther than the Badgers' fourth overtime period in eight days.

After Ryan Evans' free throw put Wisconsin up 49-43 with 5:08 remaining, the Badgers didn't score until the 1:20 mark of overtime, an 8:48 scoreless drought. In the final 15 possessions, the Badgers finished with only four points.

Evans was part of the problem, as the senior finished 2-for-8 from the field and from the free throw line. In his last eight games, Evans is 26-for-77 (33.8 percent) from the floor and 17-for-41 (41.5 percent) from the free throw line.

"If he just makes his free throws we're out of here," said UW coach Bo Ryan. "We're on the plane already. Come on, what am I going to do with the guy? You knew (the misses) were going to get us one game."

In the final 5:08 over regulation, Wisconsin went 0-for-3 on free throws, 0-for-2 on threes, 0-for-4 on twos and four turnovers, none being more critical than the one senior Mike Bruesewitz made.

After drawing a charge with 22.6 seconds left, giving the Badgers an opportunity to push its lead to two possessions, Bruesewitz made the mental mistake of moving on the baseline when his initial options were covered. That resulted in a change of possession and a tie game after Joe Coleman sank two free throws.

"I messed it up," said Bruesewitz, who scored all five of his points in the first half. "I knew I shouldn't have moved … I just took one too many steps.

"We had the game in hand, and I messed up."

Bruesewitz wasn't alone in sharing the self pity. Wisconsin still had a chance to win the game with 17.6 seconds left on the clock, but Traevon Jackson's one-man show didn't execute. Trying a rub screen with Berggren, Jackson tried multiple times to draw a foul and forced up a prayer of a shot that didn't come close to winning the game for Wisconsin.

After that, Minnesota (18-7, 6-6) scored the first five points of overtime and never trailed with Andre Hollins scoring nine of his game-high 21 in extra period.

Last Meeting

COLUMBUS, Ohio (BadgerNation) -The bounces were finally going Wisconsin's way, the defense was holding Ohio State in check and the three-point shot was dropping. And just like that, everything stopped, and Wisconsin couldn't recover in time.

Going scoreless for over seven minutes and seeing forward Deshaun Thomas find his groove down the stretch, the Badgers reverted back to their offensive woes to allow No.11 Ohio State to claim a 58-49 victory at Value City Arena.

The victory is the 64th straight home victory for Ohio State (16-4, 6-2 Big Ten) against unranked opponents, and keeps the Buckeyes a half game out of first place in the Big Ten. Wisconsin (14-7, 5-3) on the other hand was held to less than 40 percent shooting (36.5 percent) and 50 points for the third-straight game.

But the offense wasn't the biggest problem for the Badgers – who dropped into fifth place in the league - as much as it was their lack of interior defense in the second half, particularly when Thomas got going. Being stymied by Wisconsin's defense in the first half, Ohio State's second-half adjustments proved productive. Missing its first field goal of the second half, Ohio State hit eight straight attempts to take its first lead since 13-11.

The Buckeyes weren't done, as Ohio State took advantage of nine straight empty possessions and a 7:10 scoring drought from Wisconsin to build a nine-point lead, the largest of the game.

The 15-0 run was spurred by Thomas, who scored eight of his points during the stretch, and points in the paint. Ohio State scored 34 points in the paint, including eight virtual uncontested layups.

"That's how you end up going on a 15-point run," said assistant coach Lamont Paris, as Ohio State was shooting 88.9 percent from the floor at one point. "They attacked the basket. You've got to give them credit for that, but we didn't do a good job defending the paint area."

After the Ohio State surge, Wisconsin got back-to-back three-pointers from Ryan Evans and Jared Berggren, but the Badgers made only one bucket in the final 4:29. In UW's final 19 possessions, Wisconsin scored only eight points.

Series Notes:

Wisconsin and Ohio State have split the last 10 meetings between the schools.

UW head coach Bo Ryan is 14-9 against Ohio State, including a mark of 10-8 against Thad Matta.

Last season, OSU won its first game at the Kohl Center since 2000, pulling out a 58-52 victory. Prior to that, UW had won 9 straight home games vs. OSU. In fact, Bo Ryan-led teams are 9-1 against Ohio State at the Kohl Center.

The Buckeye are looking for the first sweep in this series since UW won 3 meetings in 2005. OSU hasn't sweep a season series against UW since winning both meetings in 2000.

Wisconsin has held Ohio State to 60 or fewer points in each of the last 3 meetings. Over the last 2 seasons, the Buckeyes have been held to 60 or less a total of 8 times. UW is responsible for 3 of them.

Including Sunday's game, either UW or OSU has been ranked in 17 of the last 18 meetings. This is also the 8th meeting since 2006 with both teams in the AP Top 25.

As a ranked team, Ohio State is 22-11 in the Wisconsin series, while the Badgers are 10-9 vs. the Buckeyes when ranked. When both teams are among Top 25, Ohio State has won six of the nine games played.

Wisconsin Notes

Prior to Thursday's loss at Minnesota, Wisconsin had won its last 50 consecutive games when leading or tied with 5:00 remaining, including a mark of 15-0 this season. UW led the Gophers 49-43 with 5:00 left Thursday.

The Badgers are 4-4 against teams in the AP Top 25 this season. Wisconsin is one of 6 teams in the nation with 4 or more top-25 wins

In each of its last 2 wins, UW has fought off second-half deficits to record the victory. Wisconsin trailed by as many as 9 points to Iowa with 6:30 remaining on Feb. 6 before winning in double-OT. The Badgers then erased a six-point deficit with 6:00 left in the second half before beating then-No. 3 Michigan in OT on Feb. 9.

Wisconsin ranks 4th in the Big Ten averaging 12.5 offensive rebounds per game and has recorded double-digit offensive boards in all but 7 games. UW averaged 9.7 offensive rpg last season.

Wisconsin is looking to lead the nation in fewest turnovers per game for the 3rd time in the last 4 years, Wisconsin currently sits 2nd with an average of just 9.5 per game, 0.2 behind Cal Poly.

Ohio State Notes:

In 24 games this season, opponents have shot at least 20 3-pointers in 12 games, including at least 24 attempts in four of the last five Big Ten regular-season games. Three of the last five opponents have made 11 or more treys against the Buckeyes. In seven of 12 league games this season, opponents have attempted 20 or more 3-pointers with Wisconsin attempted 28, making 11, in a loss in Columbus (58-49) Jan. 29. Ohio State is 5-2 in league play when foes attempt 20 or more from distance.

Aaron Craft is 17 steals shy of moving to the Top 7 in all-time steals in Big Ten history. After recording three steals vs. Northwestern Feb. 14, Craft has 218 for his career, already the Ohio State record and currently tied for No. 8 all-time in Big Ten history.

The Buckeyes are No. 3 in scoring defense (59.1 ppg.), 3-point field goal percentage (.369), blocked shots (4.6) and scoring margin (12.5 ppg.) 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 19 points a game, outscoring opponent reserves by more than seven points a game.


Since taking over the Ohio State program at the 2004-05 season, Thad Matta has the Big Ten's best overall record with a winning percentage of 78 percent. He also has directed the Buckeyes to the most regular-season conference wins with 106 and most overall wins with 239.

Matta also holds the best winning percentage in Big Ten games, depending on the week.

This week Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan holds the mark, as his 140-58 record (70.707 percent) narrowly edges out Matta's 106-44 record by .041. When asked earlier this week about the two going back and forth and about the similarities between the two, Ryan called it an honor to be compared to Matta.

"He's intense," said Ryan. "He's a ball coach He's not worried about the marketing of himself. I can relate to him very easily. His love for the game, the passion for the game, the way he grew up playing the game and respecting the game."

Having won at least a piece of the conference championship the past three seasons and five of the past seven, Ohio State sits in the same position as Wisconsin does, trailing the leaders by two games with six to go, which makes Sunday's game critical for both sides.

For Wisconsin, playing better defense will be essential to splitting the season series. From a defensive efficiency standpoint, Wisconsin is allowing 0.90 points per possession on the season and leads the Big Ten during conference play allowing 0.94 points per possession. In Ohio State's 58-49 win in late January, Ohio State unofficially finished at 1.04 points per possession.

UW leads the Big Ten in scoring defense (56.8 ppg), field goal percentage defense (.395), 3-point field goal percentage defense (.263) and defensive rebounding percentage (.727). Against the Badgers, Ohio State shot 63.6 percent in the second half and 51.1 percent for the game, shot 60 percent (3-for-5) on 3-point attempts and outrebounded UW 32-26.

All of those defensive lapses allowed Thomas to score 10 of his game-high 25 points during a game-breaking 15-0 run in the second half, and the Buckeyes started the half by hitting seven of their first eight from the field.

Of course the Wisconsin offense will be important, as the scoring issues are the main reason Wisconsin enters Sunday in a tie for third place and not alone in third, one-and-a-half game behind the leaders. In blowing a six-point lead at Minnesota, Wisconsin went 8:48 scoreless from the end of the second half until late into overtime, scoring only four points in the final 15 possessions.

During the 15-0 run that went from the 13:01 mark to under six minutes left in Columbus, the Badgers were 0-for-7 from the field with three turnovers. UW can't afford those lapses, as it's proven it doesn't have the dynamic playmaker this season to break them out of a slump.

I've said it before, but it's hard to pinpoint what Wisconsin is going to give on a nightly basis. Considering how bad some of Wisconsin's key players played Thursday that cost the Badgers a victory, I am thinking Traevon Jackson, Jared Berggren and others will play with something to prove. Ohio State wants this win. Wisconsin needs it, so I'm going the Badgers by two.

Worgull's Record: 15-10

Points off Prediction: 257 (10.33 per game)

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