(24) Ohio State (16-5) at (14) Wisconsin (17-4)
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 1, 12 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Kohl Center (17,230) -- Madison, Wisconsin. Television: ESPN. Home Record: OSU 13-2, UW 10-2. Away Record: OSU 2-3, UW 4-2. Neutral Record: OSU 1-0, UW 3-0. Conference Record: OSU 3-5, UW 4-4. Series Record: Ohio State leads, 85-67.
GAME NOTES: A pair of ranked Big Ten Conference clubs who happen to be struggling at the moment get together on Saturday afternoon, as No. 24 Ohio State pays a visit to No. 14 Wisconsin.
Both teams were off to sensational starts, but conference play is often times the great neutralizer, as the Buckeyes and Badgers can certainly attest, the former sitting at 3-5 in the Big Ten, while the latter comes in at an even 4-4.
Ohio State dropped a shocking 71-70 overtime decision at home to last-place Penn State on Wednesday. It was the fifth setback in the last six games for coach Thad Matta's squad, the second in overtime during that span. The Buckeyes have lost their last three road tilts.
Wisconsin also suffered a surprising home loss on Wednesday as well, falling in a 65-56 verdict to Northwestern. The setback was the second straight at home for the Badgers, who had won their first 10 at the Kohl Center this season.
Ohio State leads the all-time series with Wisconsin, 85-67, and the Buckeyes are 7-3 when both teams come in as members of the Top-25.
Poor shooting was the primary culprit in Ohio State's recent overtime loss to Penn State, as the Buckeyes connected on only 38.2 percent of their field goal attempts, which included a 5-of-16 effort from 3-point range. LaQuinton Ross paced the team with 16 points and seven rebounds, while Lenzelle Smith, Jr. was hot on his heels with 15 points. Amir Williams tallied 12 points and six boards for OSU, which claimed a 23-6 edge in points from the foul line, but allowed the Nittany Lions to drain nine treys.
Ohio State has only two double-digit scorers at the moment, as Ross and Smith, Jr. net 14.2 and 12.2 ppg, respectively, helping the team generate 72.6 ppg. Aaron Craft and Williams each average roughly nine ppg, with the former serving as the team's primary playmaker with 102 assists, and the latter its top rebounder (6.5 rpg) and shot blocker (38). Defensively is where the Buckeyes really prove their worth, as they have an average yield of only 58.9 ppg, with foes shooting just 39.8 percent from the floor, and 26.9 percent from beyond the arc -- all of which rank the team among the national leaders.
The Badgers put forth one of their worst shooting efforts in recent memory, as they converted a mere 15-of-57 field goal attempts (.263), missing 19 of their 24 3-point tries, in the recent loss to Northwestern. Despite his team's struggles, Ben Brust scored 21 points in going 7-of-18 from the floor, while Sam Dekker tacked on 11 as the only other UW player to reach double figures. Frank Kaminsky led the rebounding effort with 10. Northwestern shot 56.5 percent from the field in the second half, finishing at 47.9 percent for the game, which included a 43.8 percent showing from long distance.
Dekker (14.0 ppg, 6.4 rpg) is one of four Badgers averaging in double digits, while also spearheading the club's effort on the boards, and the team as a whole is putting up 74.3 ppg while permitting 63.5 ppg. Collectively, UW is hitting 37.3 percent of its 3-point attempts, while also logging favorable margins in both rebounding (+1.5) and turnovers (+2.0). In fact, the Badgers are very cautious with the basketball, coughing it up just 8.3 times per outing.
Both teams need to get on track in a big way, and in what is likely to be a relatively low-scoring affair, give the edge to the hometown Badgers.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Wisconsin 66, Ohio State 64
02/01 10:15:49 ET