Where: The Schott
When: 4:00pm EST
Records: OSU 25-3 (13-1); UW 26-3 (12-2)
Opponent: At long last, the rematch is finally upon us. Since losing 72-69 at Wisconsin more than six weeks ago, OSU fans have been waiting for another shot at the Badgers. In the first contest, Wisconsin used a 14-0 run to take a 59-39 lead with 9:24 left and led 69-55 with just over a minute to go before OSU rallied only to miss a potential game-tying three at the buzzer. Bo Ryanâ€™s defense recorded nine steals and held OSU to 38% shooting while the offense exposed OSUâ€™s inability to consistently defend the pick and roll. The continued defensive breakdowns allowed Kammron Taylor to score a season high 25 points including 12-16 from the charity stripe. Look for Wisconsin to again run those high pick and rolls in an attempt to draw Oden out from underneath the basket. How OSU counters this strategy could be a key to the game.
While this game is still huge, it has lost just a pinch of luster after Wisconsin was â€˜Neitzel-izedâ€™ at Michigan State Tuesday night. Neitzel had 28 points and the Spartan defense held Wisky to 36% from the floor as the Badgers resorted to launching a season high 28 three point attempts (9-28) and lost the battle on the glass 36-23. You can bet the Badgers will be ready to play today after their uncharacteristic collapse in East Lansing. Leading 49-45 with just over seven minutes to play, Wisconsin surrendered a 17-2 run to fall behind 62-51 with 19 seconds to go giving MSU their first victory over a #1 ranked opponent since Magic beat Larry Legendâ€™s Indiana State squad to capture the 1979 NCAA championship.
Players: Taylor came up big in the first contest but he had plenty of help. Big11Ten Player of the Year favorite Alando Tucker scored 17 points and grabbed 6 rebounds and point guard Michael Flowers produced 10 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists against just one turnover in 37 minutes. The Badgers also received a big effort from sophomore Marcus Landry. The 6â€™7â€ forward scored 10 points and spent a stretch playing gritty defense against Oden in the post helping limit the big man to 10 points on just 6 field goal attempts. While Landry wont be a focal point of the OSU defense, he will be playing with a lot of confidence after leading the Badgers in scoring for the first time this season with 18 points in 22 minutes including a scorching 4-6 effort from beyond the arc against the Spartans. If the OSU defense can again hold Tucker to around his season average and do a better job against the pick and roll to limit Taylorâ€™s easy opportunities then Wisconsin will need someone like Brian Butch or Flowers to pick up the scoring slack. The 6â€™11â€ Butch is their 3rd leading scorer (9.1 pts, 6.0 reb) however the Buckeyes held him scoreless in the previous matchup and he registered just 3 points against MSU.
Notes: For even more breakdown, Sean from Around the Oval and BT from Badger Sports traded Q&A on the showdown with insight galore. Lastly, the highly respected (at least by me) Seth Davis from CNNSI is taking Wisconsin.
Buckeye Breakdown: OSU is riding a 12 game winning streak and a 24 game home winning streak after beating Penn State 68-60 Wednesday night in the Schott. The Buckeyes trailed at the half as they again had trouble executing against a zone defense before Matta went exclusively with a four guard offense in the second half in an effort to generate transition opportunities and more penetration in the half court. For the first time this season, Daequan Cook, Mike Conley, Jamar Butler and Ron Lewis all played over 30 minutes together while Othello Hunter saw just seven minutes of action. The strategy worked as Butler tied a season high with 18 points while Lewis and Cook combined for 23 points and Conley dished out 10 assists for the 5th time this year. The Buckeyes also earned 33 free throw attempts, producing a 14 point advantage at the line. If Wisconsin goes zone today it will be interesting to see if Matta keeps the same strategy of simply trying to beat the zone before it can set up or if the Buckeyes will finally try to work some high-low action with Oden or Hunter flashing to receive the ball in the high post then facing up to look for backcutting teammates.
Key Players: Senior Day marks the last home game for both Lewis and Ivan Harris and could possibly be the last for Oden and Cook. Lewis has scored 11 and 16 points off the bench since Matta placed Cook in the starting lineup while Harris was held scoreless against PSU playing only 14 minutes. Oden will obviously need to be a major factor at both ends of the floor if OSU is going to clinch its second straight outright regular season conference crown. The big man had just 10 points and 7 rebounds but his wrist and stamina have come a long way in the past six weeks. Of course, Conley and the rest of the guards must look to feed Oden as he has looked increasingly comfortable shooting the right handed jump hook.
Notes: The sometimes annoying but always insightful Billy Packer will call the game with Verne Lundquist on CBSâ€¦Harris ranks 4th in OSU history connecting on 39.5% of his career three point attemptsâ€¦OSU is 49-3 in home games since Mattaâ€™s arrival.