Short turnaround for Badgers, Buckeyes
Rivalry renews again Sunday 12 noon on WISC-TV3
When No. 14 Ohio State and No. 19 Wisconsin played on Jan. 29, the Buckeyes used a second-half tear to pull out a win.
Sunday's rematch in Madison features a much-improved Badger squad that has gone 3-1 since that defeat, including a win over then-No. 3 Michigan.
The loser of this game will have its conference championship hopes essentially dissolved, while the winner lives to see another day.
The Buckeyes have struggled away from home this season, with three of their four Big Ten losses coming on the road.
Meanwhile, the Kohl Center is known for its home-court advantage, and weird things happen in its confines - like junior guard Ben Brust's shot from just inside midcourt to send Wisconsin into overtime with the Wolverines; the Badgers ultimately prevailed.
ABOUT NO. 14 OHIO STATE (18-6, 8-4 Big Ten): To beat Wisconsin, the Buckeyes must control the tempo. The Badgers strive to limit the number of offensive opportunities opponents get, but Ohio State would seem to have the speed to play at its desired pace. Junior forward Deshaun Thomas has proven he can produce against the tight Wisconsin defenses of the past, averaging 13.4 points against them.
ABOUT NO. 19 WISCONSIN (17-8, 8-4): A lack of production from senior forward Ryan Evans is beginning to hurt the Badgers. But coach Bo Ryan is faced with a tough decision, as benching Evans in favor of freshman Sam Dekker would mean the loss of Evans' team-leading 7.8 rebounds per game. Dekker has demonstrated his ability to contribute offensively, averaging nine points in limited action. The coaching staff is concerned about how he'll hold up defensively and on the glass. Opponents, like Ohio State with Thomas, will likely attack the post when Dekker is in the game.
1. Ryan and Ohio State coach Thad Matta boast identical .707 conference winning percentages.
2. The Badgers have won nine of their last 10 at home against the Buckeyes, the lone Ohio State victory since 2000 coming last season.
3. Thomas is 12 rebounds away from 500 for his career.
PREDICTION: Wisconsin 64, Ohio State 60
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