This afternoon will be the second time Wisconsin and the Buckeyes face off this season, and the 149th time the programs meet in history. Ohio State leads 83-65 in the all-time series after its 58-52 victory over Wisconsin on Feb. 4th early this month. The Badgers had a terrible 5-of-27 shooting performance from three-point range in the first bout.
Bo Ryan's Badgers come in with a 20-8 overall record after their 67-66 setback to Iowa on Thursday. Wisconsin's national-leading defense allowed 67 points in the loss, which was the third-highest scoring output by an opponent this season. The defeat made Wisconsin 9-6 in Big Ten play, which mathematically eliminated Wisconsin from a Big Ten regular season championship. Wisconsin is still a shoe-in to be invited to the NCAA Tournament after an impressive season overall. The Badgers' success this year has been primarily due to its stifling defense, which leads the nation at a meager 51.7 ppg.
Wisconsin will go as far as its star point guard Jordan Taylor can carry it this season. Taylor leads the team with averages of 14.1 points and 4.2 assists per contest. The senior guard has been struggling lately, as he will look to bounce back after his 17-game streak of double-digit scoring finishes ended when he scored only nine points versus Iowa on Thursday. While Taylor handles the ball, Ryan Evans and Jared Berggren do work inside the paint. Evans is averaging 10.7 points and 6.9 boards per game, while Berggren provides 10.3 points and 4.9 rebounds per outing. Ben Brust an additional scoring threat that Wisconsin has rode to victories this season.
Thad Matta will look to continue his seven-year winning streak in home finales as his Buckeyes are in the thick of a race for first place. Ohio State is trailing by 1.5 games in the Big Ten standings as it is 11-4 in league action after handling Illinois, 83-67, on Tuesday. The victory made Ohio State 23-5 overall. The Buckeyes ended their collective shooting slump against Illinois, as they connected on 65.3 percent of their field goals in the contest, which is a season-high in league action for OSU. The only team to defeat the Buckeyes at Value City Arena this season was the Michigan State Spartans.
William Buford is going to be playing his final home game as a Buckeye this afternoon. Buford has had a tremendous career as he is the program's all-time scoring leader in Columbus with 1,034 points at Value City Arena. All-American Jared Sullinger leads the charge for Ohio State with averages of 17.2 ppg and 9.0 rpg. The star sophomore has been excellent all season as he is third in the conference in scoring (17.9) and second in rebounding (8.9). Sullinger has recorded 11 double-doubles this season. Deshaun Thomas, Aaron Craft, and Lenzelle Smith, Jr. will all need to play their best today against Wisconsin's top-notch defense.