Breakdown: No.6 Wisconsin vs No.23 Ohio State

The final game of the regular season, No.6 Wisconsin meets No.23 Ohio State this afternoon in a game that will mimic a tournament atmosphere. BadgerNation breaks down the matchup and looks at the Badgers' chances for a No.1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

No.6 Wisconsin (27-3, 15-2 Big Ten) vs. No.23 Ohio State (22-8, 11-6 Big Ten)

Date/Time -Sunday, March 8, 3:30 p.m. Central

Arena –Value City Arena (19,049)

Television -CBS (Jim Nantz, Bill Raftery and Tracy Wolfson)

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

Series – Ohio State leads 86-67 (Ohio State leads 54-22 in Columbus)

Last Meeting – Ohio State won, 59-58, on February 1, 2014 in Madison

Wisconsin Probable Starters

10 Nigel Hayes (6-8 Sophomore Forward, 12.1 ppg)

15 Sam Dekker (6-9 Junior Forward, 13.2 ppg)

21 Josh Gasser (6-4 Senior Guard, 7.1 ppg)

24 Bronson Koenig (6-4 Sophomore Guard, 7.6 ppg)

44 Frank Kaminsky (7-0 Senior Forward, 18.4 ppg)

Off the Bench

3 Zak Showalter (6-2 Sophomore Guard, 2.1 ppg)

13 Duje Dukan (6-10 Senior Forward, 4.6 ppg)

30 Vitto Brown (6-8 Sophomore Guard, 2.0 ppg)

Ohio State Probable Starters

0 D’Angelo Russell (6-5 Freshman Guard, 19.3 ppg)

1 Jae’Sean Tate (6-4 Freshman Forward, 8.8 ppg)

3 Shannon Scott (6-3 Senior Guard, 7.9 ppg)

12 Sam Thompson (6-7 Senior Forward, 10.5 ppg)

23 Amir Williams (6-11 Senior Center, 6.4 ppg)

Off the Bench

2 Marc Loving (6-7 Sophomore Forward, 10.2 ppg)

15 Kam Williams (6-2 Freshman Guard, 6.2 ppg)

33 Keita Bates-Diop (6-7 Freshman Forward, 4.1 ppg)

55 Trey McDonald (6-8 Senior Center, 2.9 ppg)

Last Meeting

A botched final possession led to an off-balanced 3-point attempt by Sam Dekker that bounced off the back iron, leading to more questions, disgust and frustration following a 59-58 defeat at the hands of No.24 Ohio State.

Bringing the ball up court, junior guard Traevon Jackson tried to make a move on senior Aaron Craft – one of the best defenders in the conference. Ball pressure from Craft and a double team from LaQuinton Ross allowed too much time to drip off the clock before Jackson could pass the ball, leaving Dekker little chance for a high-percentage shot.

“He lost the ball on the dribble,” said Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan, referring to Jackson. “He miss dribbled and he had to pick it up … He loses his dribble, so we can’t make a good, solid play. It was just mishandled.”

It was also expected. With Jackson’s propensity to take the big shot, Ohio State coach Thad Matta said the Buckeyes (17-5, 4-5 Big Ten) had Jackson marked, knowing he was probably going to be the one who was going to try and create something.

“He likes big shots and he loves the ball at the end of the shot clock, end of games,” said Matta. “He’s hit like 19 game winners in his time here, so we told our guys he’s probably going to take the shot.”

“Groundhog Day” has arrived for Wisconsin, as the Badgers are stuck in the same familiar script being played over and over and over again. Losers of five of six and three straight home games for the first time since the 1997-98 season, it came down to shooting.

The Badgers shot only 36 percent in the second half, 40 percent for the game and went 3-for-17 from the 3-point line, including 1-for-9 in the second half. In the last two games Wisconsin is 33 of 102 overall (32.4 percent) and 8 of 41 (19.5 percent) from the 3-point line.

“I’ve a hard time figuring out how the last two games we haven’t knocked down more perimeter shots,” said Ryan. “That I don’t understand.”

To make matters worse, Wisconsin was given multiple chances to take control of the game, but never capitalized, another reoccurring theme for a team who is season its season spiral well out of control.

UW finally appeared to take control of the back-and-forth title with a 13-2 run midway through the second half, capped by a Hayes’ made free throw to put UW up 52-45. Wisconsin only made one field goal the remainder of the game, including none over the final 6:44.

Part of the reason for no field goals was Wisconsin getting to the free throw line, but that didn’t turn out to be much better. UW went 6-for-14 in the second half from the free throw line, including 4-for-10 during the final stretch; a stark turnaround from the first half went UW went 13-for-15.

- Benjamin Worgull,

Last Time Out

MINNEAPOLIS - Breaking a two game losing streak in Williams Arena, No.6 Wisconsin’s wire-to-wire 76-63 over Minnesota gives the Badgers the outright Big Ten title for the first time since 2008, the No.1 seed in next week’s conference tournament for the fourth time and keeps them in the hunt for a top seed in the NCAA tournament.

“It’s been a crazy ride,” said Kaminsky, as the Badgers (27-3, 15-2 Big Ten) wrap up the regular season Sunday at No.23 Ohio State (22-8, 11-6). “It’s been fun. To win it (outright) in a rivalry game on Minnesota’s court with so many of our own fans here is something pretty special.”

Kaminsky continues to enhance his national player of the year resume with a 25 points, six rebounds and a career-high seven assists. In the last two games, Kaminsky has scored 56 points, secured 14 rebounds and has a 10-to-3 assist-to-turnover margin.

“(Frank’s) awesome,” said Dekker, who finished with 20 points, hitting that mark for the third time in the last seven games. “He’s really good, like really good. I’m dead serious. The dude is really good. He does so much for us.”

Joined by Nigel Hayes (12 points), Wisconsin’s three-man frontcourt scored the team’s first 14 points via the dunk, wing jumper, free throw line and 3-point shot and finished with a combined 57 points on 21-for-41 shooting.

UW led 10-4 at the first media timeout, making it the 12th straight game it had the led at that point, outscoring its opponents 117-53 during that stretch. The Badgers shot 50 percent for the game, their best road shooting performance since shooting 52.6 percent in a 23-point win at Northwestern Jan.4.

Wisconsin was so locked in early that Josh Gasser (4 for his last 19 from 3-point range) swished one from the top of the key as the shot clock expired, and Duje Dukan broke 1 -for-15 slump over 11 games with his 3-pointer from the top of the key to make it 22-10.

Starting 8-for-10 from the floor and 4-for-4 from 3-point range, Wisconsin built a lead in never surrendered, making Minnesota look foolish with back cuts, pump fakes and dribble penetration.

Even when Minnesota (17-13, 6-11) went on a 21-8 run over the two halves, the Badgers never let the lead drop below six.

- Benjamin Worgull,

Series Notes

Wisconsin and Ohio State have split the last 20 meetings between the schools.

UW head coach Bo Ryan is 15-11 against Ohio State, including a mark of 11-10 against Thad Matta.

Ryan-led teams are 5-5 at Value City Arena, with the most recent win coming on a 63-60 decision in 2012. The Badgers did not play in Columbus last season.

For the second year in a row, UW and OSU will meet just once in the regular season. The Buckeyes claimed a rare 59-58 win in Madison last season, just their 2nd in 11 meetings at the Kohl Center since 2002.

Wisconsin has held Ohio State to 60 or fewer points in each of the last 6 meetings.

UW is 11-9 against Thad Matta-led Ohio State teams. The Badgers own the best win percentage against Matta’s Buckeyes of any Big Ten team.

Including Sunday’s game, either UW or OSU has been ranked in 20 of the last 21 meetings (dating back to 2005). Over that stretch, the team are separated by just two total points. In the series, the Badgers have scored 1,268 points (60.4 ppg) while the Buckeyes have scored 1,266 ponts (60.3 ppg). This will also be the 9th time in the last 10 meetings that both teams enter the game ranked in the AP poll.

Wisconsin Notes

Ryan’s teams are 10-3 in regular-season finales, including a mark of 4-2 when the final game is on the road. UW lost at OSU, 93-65, in the last game of the 2010-11 season.

UW has won 9 true road games for just the 2nd time in school history - school record is 10 in 2007-08.

Overall, UW is 2nd in the Big Ten shooting 47.9 percent from the field, which would rank as the 6thhighest mark in school history. The Badgers’ 75.3 percent free throw percentage would be the 3rd-highest in UW history.

Dating back to Feb. of 2011, UW is 110-3 when leading or tied with 5:00 left, including a mark of 27-0 this season. The only losses over the last 5 years have been to Kentucky (led 69-65) and Ohio State last season (led 54-50) and at Minnesota in 2012-13 season (led 49-43).

UW has also won 134 of its last 136 games when shooting a higher FG% than its opponents, including a mark of 24-0 this season and 19-1 last season.

Ohio State Notes

As an Ohio State head coach, the 13th in the history of the program, Matta tied the all-time wins record, currently held by Fred Taylor with 297 career wins over 18 seasons from 1959-1976, with a 77-67 win at Penn State March 4, 2015. Matta needs one win added to his Ohio State career record of 297-91 to claim the career wins record outright at Ohio State. One win also would give him 400 victories for his career (399-122).

The Ohio State four-year senior class of Shannon Scott, Sam Thompson, Amir Williams and Trey McDonald have experienced great success over their careers. The group owns two Big Ten regular-season titles, two Big Ten Tournament title game appearances with one Big Ten Tournament title (2013), two NCAA "Sweet 16" appearances, two "Elite Eights" and one trip to the Final Four (2012).

Scott has 204 career steals, tied for the No. 2 spot with Jay Burson (1986-89) in Ohio State history. He also 178 assists this season, good for the No. 6 spot in single-season history at Ohio State.

Matta has finished off the home season with a win in nine of 10 seasons in Columbus. Four times the Buckeyes defeated ranked teams, two of those were No. 1 at the time. The finale this season marks the fourth time Ohio State ended the home campaign against Wisconsin with Matta as the Buckeyes' head coach. The Buckeyes are 2-1.

Scott and Russell lead the country in combined assists per game with an average of 11.1 helpers a contest. Scott (5.9 apg.) is No. 15 nationally. Russell (5.2 apg.) rates No. 36.


Win a share of the Big Ten regular season title? Check.

Win the title outright? Check.

Clinch the No.1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament? Check.

Earn a No.1 seed in the NCAA Tournament?

The University of Wisconsin has taken care of a bunch of important goals in the past seven days, but the abbreviated list above shows there’s still more to play for between now and when the brackets are released next Sunday afternoon.

That’s one of the reasons why the Badgers are going to close out the regular season swinging this afternoon in a game that should perfectly mimic what an NCAA tournament game is going to be like.

“Going out there and trying to close out the Big Ten in my – and the other seniors’ – last game in the best way we know how,” said Kaminsky. “We’re going to try to go out to Columbus and dominate.”

There’s no denying that the Badgers are playing with a full head of steam since Jan.11. Minus the one bad half at Maryland, Wisconsin has taken care of business in the Big Ten to win its first outright title in seven years and put a bow on an impressive tournament resume. Ranked sixth in the RPI, the Badgers are 8-2 against the Top50 RPI, have played a strength of schedule ranked 20th in the country and suffered two losses to teams in the RPI Top10. The only glaring hole in their resume is a loss at Rutgers (RPI 156) when Kaminsky didn’t play.

Is that resume good enough for a No.1 seed next week? Three things appear to be certain: undefeated Kentucky will be the overall No.1 seed and Duke and Virginia will also be No.1s.

A spirited Twitter debate raged on my timeline Saturday night in regards to the Cavaliers’ worthiness after losing by two at Louisville (RPI 21) earlier that afternoon. Even if UVa loses its first ACC tournament game, the Cavs still won their power five conference championship outright, would be at worst 28-3, have a top 35 strength of schedule, top 10 RPI, a nonconference RPI ranked four and are currently 8-2 against the top50 RPI. Face it; that’s No.1 material.

Right now it appears the Badgers are sitting as the top No.2 seed behind Villanova (28-2, 4-1 vs. RPI top25, 10-1 vs. RPI top50). Arizona is also lurking out of the Pac-12 after the Wildcats won their outright conference title.

Needless to say, one slip up between today and next Sunday and the Badgers might be on an Elite Eight collision course with Kentucky.

“You want to play well and you want to win,” said associate head coach Greg Gard on Sunday’s motivation. “That’s goal number one. You want to keep the momentum going into next week, and you’re also still fighting for a seed line. Can we get to a 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament?

“These guys know; they see Bracketology. It’s human nature to listen to that stuff. You control the controllable, and that’s Sunday playing the best we can against a really good team. They’ve only lost once at home to Iowa to start the Big Ten season, so we’ll have our hands full. We need to continue to get better, and continue to progress as we move toward next week.”

Gasser knows seeding doesn’t really matter as much as getting an invitation into the field of 68, but he knows a big road win over a ranked team a week before Selection Sunday would look pretty nice in the eyes of the committee. There’s also the pride factor.

“We want to feel good about ourselves heading into tournament time,” said Gasser. “We still have a lot left to accomplish. A big win road win at Ohio State against a really good team would be huge for our resume.”

This will be a good test for Wisconsin’s starting lineup that is a combination of talent and tournament tested. Russell is a unique, multi-dimensional player the Badgers will likely have to face a few times over the next month if they want to reach their ultimate goal. UW also will have to be wary of three Ohio State seniors playing their final home game and all the emotion that comes with it.

This game is a coin flip in the eyes of Vegas, with the Badgers being a one-point favorite. I’ve gone back and forth on this game all the weekend. This game means a lot more to Ohio State than it does Wisconsin, but, as Gard pointed out, Wisconsin comes to work every day with a “mindset that they’re not intimidated by anything; they’re upset when they don’t win; they think they should win every game; and have had the same approach in practice. They’ve had a champions’ mentality. They just figure that they only way they’re going to get beat is if they don’t play well. They fear absolutely nothing.”

Championship-caliber teams win these types of games, and Wisconsin has the right mix of experience and talent to win 10 more games this season. Badgers by three.

Worgull's Record: 28-2

Points off Prediction: 207 (7.0 per game)

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