Two Big Ten teams in the top-15 of the AP Top 25 rankings will battle Saturday when No. 10 Wisconsin takes on No. 15 Ohio State in the only scheduled meeting between the teams this season. The Buckeyes (11-4, 5-4 Big Ten) will be looking to avoid consecutive losses for the first time this season, while the Badgers (12-3, 6-2) will be trying to run their Big Ten winning streak to three games.
Defense was a driving force behind Wisconsin's consecutive wins over Rutgers and Northwestern as the Badgers allowed just 52 and 54 points in those games to creep within a game of first-place Michigan in the league standings entering Saturday's game. But Ohio State's offense ranks as the No. 5 most efficient in the country, according to KenPom, and will pose a test for the Badgers.
Specifically, the Buckeyes are one of the most 3-point happy teams in the Big Ten, having hit 10 or more treys in each of their past four games. Despite knocking down 14-of-35 tries from beyond the arc, Ohio State could not overcome a gritty Purdue team in a 67-65 loss on Tuesday.
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- When: Saturday, 4 p.m. ET
- Where: Kohl Center in Madison, Wisconsin
- TV: CBS | Live stream: CBSSports.com, CBS Sports App (Free)
- OTT: CBS Sports App (Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV, Chromecast)
Ohio State: Ohio State coach Chris Holtman said the 35 3-point attempts against Purdue were "a few too many." But the Buckeyes are not a particularly strong team on the interior. Starting forwards E.J. Liddell and Kyle are 6-foot-7 and 6-8, respectively, and Liddell is the team's second-leading scorer. But Ohio State is undersized compared to most of the rest of the Big Ten, and has embraced a perimeter-oriented approach this season. The Buckeyes have also been playing without point guard C.J. Walker for the past four games as he tries to rehab from a hand injury. Holtmann didn't rule out the possibility of Walker returning against the Badgers.
Wisconsin: Wisconsin's solid defense has set it apart to this point, as the Badgers have held four Big Ten opponents under 60 points while spending the entire season in the top-15. Offensively, this team has a number of players who can lead the way in scoring on a given night, but D'Mitrik Trice has been on a tear as of late. The redshirt senior guard has reached double figures in seven straight games and is averaging a career-best 14.8 points and shooting a career-best 42.7% from 3-point range.
Game prediction, pick
The Big Ten is brutal and unpredictable, as was demonstrated again Thursday night when Indiana upset Iowa on the road and held the high-powered Hawkeyes without a field goal for 11 minutes in the second half. So while Wisconsin appears to be trending in the right direction and Ohio State is coming off a close loss, there's really no sense into trying to read the meaning of recent results. This has the makings of another brutally contested conference game, and the Badgers get a slight edge only because of their defense, which should be able to manage an Ohio State team getting increasingly 3-point happy. Prediction: Wisconsin 68, Ohio State 66
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