After a program-best 16-0 start, Wisconsin did not seem like a team that would start the month of February below .500 in Big Ten play. After a 59-58 loss to Ohio State at home, the Badgers are in a tailspin at 4-5. The loss follows an embarrassing home loss to Northwestern on Wednesday, and extends the home losing streak to three for the first time in the Bo Ryan era.
Saturday's loss came in particularly heart-breaking fashion; blowing a 54-48 lead with turnovers and missed free throws down the stretch. Ohio State was able to tie the game with a late scoring burst from Aaron Craft -- who was otherwise quiet during the game -- and grab a lead with 1:36 remaining.
Missed free throws not only opened the door for Ohio State's comeback, but also sealed the Badgers' fate. Trailing 59-57 with 17 seconds left, Traevon Jackson missed the back end of two free throws. But this brutal Big Ten battle will not end that easily, as Buckeyes forward Lenzelle Smith managed to miss a layup, get his own rebound and fall down; resulting in a traveling violation and one more chance for the Badgers.
The play that just happened in Ohio State-Wisconsin is the absolute perfect microcosm of these teams, this game.— Matt Norlander (@MattNorlander) February 1, 2014
The physical affair came to an end when Sam Dekker, who finished with four points on 2-of-6 shooting, rushed a missed a three-pointer on the Badgers' final possession.
With the way Illinois has been playing recently, the Badgers will have a good chance to reverse this slide in their next game. But then again, the game is being played in Champaign and nothing is a guarantee for this Wisconsin team right now.
After Illinois, it's Michigan State, Minnesota and back-to-back road games against Michigan and Iowa. If Bo Ryan's team is going to pick itself off the mat and contend in the Big Ten, it needs to happen quickly.