Preview: Ohio State at Wisconsin
Ohio State might be enjoying its last game as a ranked team for a while when it visits No. 13 Wisconsin on Saturday.
The 23rd-ranked Buckeyes suffered their fifth loss in six games in stunning fashion at home against Penn State on Wednesday and need to clean up several things on both ends of the court before getting back to the top 10.
The Badgers are enduring their own rough patch with four losses in five games.
Ohio State and Wisconsin both spent time in the top five this season and both went into Big Ten play undefeated but have found trouble against their conference foes. The Buckeyes had an 80-game home winning streak against unranked opponents snapped with Wednesday’s 71-70 overtime setback to the Nittany Lions while the Badgers suffered a 65-56 home loss on Wednesday to Northwestern – a team they had beaten by 27 points less than a month earlier.
Wisconsin has dropped two straight at home and is experiencing uncharacteristic breakdowns on the defensive end.
TV: 12 p.m. ET, ESPN
ABOUT OHIO STATE (16-5, 3-5 Big Ten): The Buckeyes held an 11-point lead in the second half against Penn State but were doomed by missed free throws and poor defense down the stretch to fall to 1-5 since beginning the season with 15 straight victories.
“This feels different from past slumps because of the position we were previously in,” coach Thad Matta told reporters. “We have to be tougher physically and mentally. It’s been stressing us out for weeks now.”
Ohio State shot 28 percent from the floor in the second half Wednesday and is averaging 61.8 points over its last four contests – nearly 11 points below its season average.
ABOUT WISCONSIN (17-4, 4-4): The Badgers built their reputation under coach Bo Ryan on defense but have allowed an average of 71.2 points in the last five games and surrendered 43 in the second half of Wednesday’s loss to Northwestern.
The offense is not holding up its end, either, and leading scorer Sam Dekker is 2-of-16 from 3-point range over the last four games. ” Sometimes you miss a couple of shots and that basket gets pretty small,” Ryan told reporters. “It was pretty small (against Northwestern).”TIP-INS
1. Ohio State leads the Big Ten in 3-point defense, holding opponents to 26.9 percent, while Wisconsin ranks third in 3-point offense at 37.3 percent.
2. Buckeyes F LaQuinton Ross has scored in double figures in five straight games but totaled 11 points in two regular-season meetings with the Badgers last season.
3. Ohio State took two of three from Wisconsin in 2012-13, including a 50-43 triumph in the Big Ten championship game.PREDICTION: Wisconsin 68, Ohio State 65