Preview: No.15 Ohio State vs No.23 Wisconsin

No more cupcakes, as it's time for the Big Ten's 105th season of conference play to begin. If the Badgers want to win their fourth conference championship under Bo Ryan, UW will need to start hot from the start, as the opening to its schedule is no picnic. First up for the Badgers, fifteenth-ranked and Evan Turner-less Ohio State.

No.15 Ohio State (10-2, 0-0 Big Ten) vs. No.23 Wisconsin (10-2, 0-0 Big Ten)

Date/Time - Thursday, December 27, at 1 p.m. Central

Arena – Kohl Center (17,220)

Television - ESPN2 (Terry Gannon and Steve Lavin)

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

Series – OSU Leads 84-65 (UW Leads 43-40 in Madison)

Last Meeting – OSU won, 61-57, on March 13, 2009 in Indianapolis

Wisconsin Probable Starters

3 Trevon Hughes (Senior Guard, 16.4 ppg)

12 Jason Bohannon (Senior Guard, 10.1 ppg)

24 Tim Jarmusz (Junior Forward, 3.8 ppg)

30 Jon Leuer (Junior Forward, 17.0 ppg)

52 Keaton Nankivil (Junior Forward, 7.9 ppg)

Off the Bench

5 Ryan Evans (Freshman Forward, 4.0 ppg)

11 Jordan Taylor (Sophomore Guard, 8.3 ppg)

31 Mike Bruesewitz (Freshman Forward, 1.6 ppg)

33 Rob Wilson (Sophomore Forward, 2.7 ppg)

40 Jared Berggren (Freshman Center, 2.1 ppg)

Ohio State Probable Starters

4 P.J. Hill (Senior Guard, 4.8 ppg)

23 David Lighty (Junior Guard, 14.4 ppg)

33 Jon Diebler (Junior Guard, 14.4 ppg)

44 William Buford (Sophomore Guard, 12.6 ppg)

52 Dallas Lauderdale (Junior Forward, 8.5 ppg)

Off the Bench

2 Jeremie Simmons (Senior Guard, 9.3 ppg)

15 Kyle Madsen (Senior Center, 2.5 ppg)

Last Meeting:

INDIANAPOLIS – This was a script we had seen many times before.

Call it a microcosm of the 2008-09 season, but the Badgers built themselves a seven–point lead with six-plus minutes left, using solid ball movement and finishing around the basket to have a firm grasp around the game's momentum.

The right on cue, the Badgers watched it all dissipate, with the assist going to Buckeye sophomore Evan Turner.

Turner scored a game-high 19 points and Wisconsin went the last six minutes, one second without scoring a field goal, both of which made the Badgers' Big Ten Tournament stay a short one, leaving with a 61-57 souvenir defeat at the hands of Ohio State.

In a game that featured eight lead changes and seven ties, Wisconsin (19-12) once again had no answer for Turner. After the first-team All-Big Ten selection scored 23 points in the teams' only previous meeting in Madison, the Badgers couldn't make life any harder on Turner.

Scoring eight of his total in the final 6:26, it was Turner's twisting runner in the lane with 52 seconds left that effectively erased Wisconsin's lead, putting Ohio State (21-9) ahead for good and one step closer to the NCAA Tournament.

Said senior Joe Krabbenhoft: "(Evan) did it down the stretch. He stepped up and led his team. They were down a couple and he just took control of the game, took control of the ball. We tried to make it tough for him and he made it look easy."

While Turner had a hand in the end result, Wisconsin was its own worse enemy in another line of long, painful coulda-woulda-shoulda games.

Not only did the Badgers fail to make a field goal in the waning minutes, Wisconsin made only three free-throws during the same time frame while the Buckeyes were 7-for-9 in the final five minutes, out scoring Wisconsin 14-3.

Last Time Out:

Getting double-digit point efforts from five sources, Wisconsin closed out its non-conference schedule by easily beating UIC, 79-43, Sunday afternoon at the Kohl Center.

"I feel like we are well prepared, but we are trying to get better and still improving, as is any team at this point," said Bohannon, who scored all of his 15 points from three-point range. "It's still late December, but we want to get where we want to be at the end of March. We feel we can get a lot better and we are striving for that every day."

One of those players striving to get better is Leuer. Spending the off season diligently trying to fine tune parts of his game, Leuer continued to provide the scoring, recording a game-high 17 points, but this time created opportunities for his teammates. Leuer added a career-best five assists, more than his last five games combined.

UW (10-2) came up empty on five of its first six possessions, including two turnovers that caused Ryan to start searching for options on his bench just 1 minute, 18 seconds into the game and continuing throughout the half, trying to find some rhythm after a sleep walking through the first eight minutes.

One of those bench players Ryan called upon was Wilson, who entered Sunday averaging only 8.9 minutes, 3 points and .9 rebounds per game. Wilson was vital in his 11 first-half minutes, grabbing six rebounds – he finished with eight to establish a new career high – and a steal.

In addition to Taylor's 11, UW got 10 bench points from freshman Evans, helping Wisconsin to a 27-6 advantage from the reserves.

Those contributions helped UW shoot 46 percent in the opening half, limited the Flames (3-8) to only eight buckets and 19 points and score 13 points off 10 UIC turnovers.

Series Notes:

The series between the two schools dates back to 1905

Ohio State leads the all-time series 84-65, but the Badgers own a 43-30 advantage in games played in Madison

UW has won seven-straight games vs. the Buckeyes in Madison

UW is 11-5 against OSU under Bo Ryan, including a perfect 6-0 at the Kohl Center.

Wisconsin Notes:

The Badgers are 2-0 vs. ranked teams this season, knocking off No. 21 Maryland and No. 6 Duke in back-to-back games. That was the first time UW had beaten ranked foes in consecutive games since beating three straight top-25 opponents in the 2000 NCAA tournament.

This season, the Badgers once again lead the Big Ten in scoring defense, allowing only 58.4 points per game. Last season, Wisconsin ranked second in the Big Ten and 10th nationally surrendering 59.0 points per game. In 2007-08, the Badgers led the nation in scoring defense, limiting opponents to only 54.4 points per game.

In UW's eight games at the Kohl Center this season, opponents are shooting just .368 from the field and only .297 from 3-point range. Oakland's 27.3 shooting percentage on Nov. 18 was the lowest field-goal percentage for a UW opponent since Michigan shot 20.0 percent in a 2008 Big Ten Tournament game.

Leuer leads the Badgers and ranks third in the Big Ten in scoring with an average of 17.0 points per game. That is the highest scoring average for a Badger player since Alando Tucker averaged 19.9 points per game in 2006-07.

Ohio State Notes:

Last time out, junior forward David Lighty scoring 15 of Ohio State's 16 points during a 5:47 stretch in a 72-59 win over Cleveland State. Lighty was named the Big Ten Player of the Week after finishing with a team-high and career-high 30 points (9-of-16) with seven rebounds and five assists vs. his hometown school.

Junior Evan Turner fell hard to the floor on a dunk attempt early in the first half vs. Eastern Michigan Dec. 5. He left the game and tests revealed a fracture in his lower back. He is expected to miss eight weeks recovering from the injury. After eight games, Turner led the Buckeyes in scoring (18.5 ppg.), rebounding (11.4 rpg.), assists (47) and field goals (62). He was shooting 61 percent from the field (62-102) and was second in blocks (10) and steals (12).

Jon Diebler, the all-time leading scorer in Ohio High School history, started slow in the college game from behind the arc, where he made a name for himself as a prep at Upper Sandusky High School. After shooting 29 percent from long range as a rookie (48-166), Diebler responded with a breakout sophomore season. He knocked down 96 of 231 treys for 41.6 percent accuracy.

Worgull's Prediction

If Evan Turner was healthy and playing, I believe Ohio State wins this game. No Turner does equal a problem, however, for the Buckeyes. OSU has had four games to figure out what to do without its star, who is projected to miss another month (and both UW games).

The problem I see with the Buckeyes right now is their bench, or lack there of. In the last two games, Coach Thad Matta has used two players off his bench ... TWO! Against Cleveland State, those two players logged only 16 minutes. I don't care how good your starting five is but when you get into physical Big Ten play, you'll need fresh bodies.

The key for UW is stopping Diebler, who has averaged 21.4 points per game over the past five games and is shooting 69 percent overall and 66.6 percent from 3-point range during those five games. Hopefully, this will be the game he starts to cool down. OSU has played only one true road game (a loss at Butler) and UW has been playing solid basketball since the start of the season (save the GB game) and besides, the Badgers have never lost a Big Ten opener under Bo Ryan. I like UW in a typical Big Ten battle by six points.

Worgull's Record: 8-4

Points off Prediction: 157 (13.1 per game)

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