Where: Kohl Center â€“ Madison, Wisconsin
When: 9:00pm EST
Records: OSU 13-2 (2-0); Badgers 15-1 (1-0)
Opponent: Wisconsin hosts Ohio State at the Kohl Center in a battle of the best the Big11Ten has to offer. The Badgers are riding an 11 game winning streak after demolishing Minnesota 68-45 in their conference opener, pushing their home record to 13-0. The Badgers used a 21-5 run midway through the first half to stretch a 16-15 lead to 37-20 at intermission then held the Gophers scoreless for the first 6 minutes of the second half to put the game on ice. Bo Ryanâ€™s squad will rely on their size, experience and the leagueâ€™s best player, Alando Tucker, to avoid an upset on their home court in this nationally televised tilt.
Players: The favorite to win conference player of the year, the 6'6" Tucker is putting up 20.2 points and 4.6 rebounds a night. Playing the 3-spot, he is a tough match up defensively because of his inside/outside skills. A threat from beyond the arc, he can also dribble drive and will post up down low if a smaller defender is checking him one on one. His best games have come against the best competition the Badgers have faced including a 32 point, 10 rebound outburst against then #2 Pitt and a 28 point, 5 rebound effort against then #20 Marquette. He could have another big game against the defensive inexperience of Daequan Cook and a relatively soft Ivan Harris. Wisconsin also boasts plenty of size in 6â€™11â€ junior Brian Butch (10.6pts, 6.6reb), 6â€™10 senior Jason Chappell (3.9pts, 3.1reb) and 6â€™11â€ junior Greg Stiemsma. In the backcourt, senior guard and Chris Rock look-a-like Kammron Taylor averages 12.6 points per game shooting 49% on threes. Rounding out the starting lineup, guard Michael Flowers averages nearly 8 points a game to go along with 3 rebounds and 3 assists per contest.
Notes: The Badgers are 84-5 in home games since Bo Ryan took over including a 39-2 mark in conference gamesâ€¦At 15-1, theyâ€™re off to their best start since the â€™28-â€™29 seasonâ€¦Tucker has reached double figures in 23 straight games.
Buckeye Breakdown: OSU leads the Big11Ten with a 2-0 record after handing Illinois their third straight loss Saturday in Champaign. The game marked an improved effort on defense by OSU as they held the Illini to 24% FG shooting, won the rebounding battle and blocked 7 shots. OSU needs that same defensive intensity to have a chance at pulling a Kohl Center upset.
Key Players: Greg Oden and Othello Hunter combined for 17 points, 20 rebounds (9 off), and 6 blocks in Saturdayâ€™s victory. The duoâ€™s success tonight will play a large part in determining the outcome. Bruce Weberâ€™s squad consistently played Oden to his braced right hand and he shot a stanky 3-12 from the field. Look for Wisconsin to employ the same strategy. Bo Ryan coaches a hard nosed style and I expect Butch, Chappell and company to beat on him in an effort to fatigue and frustrate the big man. Bob Baptist reports in today's Dispatch that Oden will wear a new wrap tonight that "will not extend above his wrist or restrict his thumb." If we are shooting it decently from the perimeter, I donâ€™t think we need 15 points from Oden to win, but we do need him to be a major defensive presence and to stay out of foul trouble. Out top, the offensive efficiency of Cook, Ron Lewis and Jamar Butler will be huge since offensive rebounds could be hard to come by. The Bucks hit 9 threes but shot just 31% from long range against Illinois. Weâ€™ll need to shoot a much higher percentage from deep to steal this game.
Notes: Oden leads the conference in rebounding while Conley Jr. leads in assists (6.7) and steals (2.7)â€¦Cook is 4th in FG% at 55.6%...OSU and Wisconsin are ranked #1 and #2 in points per game at 80.1 and 76.9 per game respectivelyâ€¦Next up: #25 Tennessee Saturday at 1pm.