|Ohio State 17-5, 7-4 Big Ten Roster | Schedule||February 14, 2009 9:00 PM ET - ESPN —— Kohl Center Madison, WI||Wisconsin 15-9, 6-6 Big Ten Roster | Schedule|
Ohio State travels to Madison on Saturday to face a streaking Badger team for the only time this season.
The Buckeyes are 0-5 at the Kohl Center since Bo Ryan took over in 2001 and with this game being the ESPN primetime feature, the Grateful Red will make it tough on Thad's young squad.
Wisconsin has won 3 straight after suffering through an uncustomary 6 game skid in January. Of course, the Buckeyes have won 4 straight themselves and had a week to prepare for the Badgers, so it should be another classic B10 battle.
|2||Jeremie Simmons||7.8||1.7||3.0||G||12||Jason Bohannon||10.9||3.1||1.8|
|33||Jon Diebler||11.0||3.4||2.7||G||3||Trevon Hughes||11.5||3.2||2.9|
|21||Evan Turner||17.0||7.5||3.3||F||1||Marcus Landry||12.9||4.3||1.5|
|44||William Buford||11.8||3.5||1.1||F||45||Joe Krabbenhoft||8.2||6.7||2.6|
|52||Dallas Lauderdale||5.1||4.1||0.3||C||30||Jon Leuer||9.5||4.1||0.8|
Wisconsin sits 2nd, right behind the Bucks in conference shooting at 45 percent, including 36 percent from downtown. Bo's team ranks fourth in scoring at almost 65 points and gives up only 60 points a contest, thanks to a 49 point average over the last 3.
Jon Leuer, a 6"10" sophomore, entered the starting lineup three games ago and has responded with essentially 11 points and 7 boards, thus sending 20 game starter Keaton Nankivil to the bench. Bo Ryan will primarily play 4 of his starters over 30 minutes and will look to bring Tim Jarmusz, Nankivil, and Jordan Taylor off the pine.
Two weeks ago, the Badgers were on the verge of being written off in B10 play, but they have locked down the defense, allowing more than 25 points in a half only once during their current streak. They have climbed to a +4.4 scoring margin in league play and a victory over the AP ranked Buckeyes would bump them above .500 in B10 play and keep their slim tourney hopes alive.
Ohio State comes into the game leading the conference in shooting at 50.1 percent per game, including 42 percent from deep. The Bucks are holding steady behind MSU for scoring average, dropping in 68.4 per contest.
Evan Turner leads the conference in scoring at 18 points, while Buford sits 7th with 14.8 and Diebler is 13th at 12.5 points a game. Throw in Mullens at 10.8 a game and you have the only B10 team with four players averaging double digits in league play. Matta has molded this team into an offensive force and it is more enjoyable to watch without all the 3-balls being chucked up with 25 seconds left on the shot clock.
We will soon find out whether the week off was a good thing or not. I personally think it was a well-timed break by the scheduling gods, allowing the Bucks to rest their legs, shoot a ton of jumpers and draw up new plays for the stretch run, in which they play 4 of their last 7 on the road.
I think it is going to take until the 12 minute mark of the first half for OSU to shake a bit of the rust off. If they can avoid an early deficit and not be intimidated by a home crowd that actually makes noise, then they can come home from Madison with a win. Wisconsin is tough on defense, but the Bucks have so many scoring options that have emerged, it is difficult to stop them all for forty minutes. That is why I think the Bucks will pull out the 61-57 victory.
- Whisky has already lost 2 conference home games, after losing just 3 in Ryan's first 7 seasons.
- Only UCONN (8) has more wins than Ohio State (5) over top 25 teams.