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Does anyone know how good the Big Ten is at this point? Ohio State and Wisconsin are both coming off home losses as -13 and -17 point favorites, respectively. The Buckeyes have lost five of their last six games while the Badgers have lost four of their last five.
At this point, no one is really sure what to make of either team and this game probably won't help that much as it will likely come down to the final few minutes. So the current question begs, how did these teams start the season so strong? Wisconsin had wins over Florida, Saint Louis and at Virginia early on and was primed for a No. 1 seed. Ohio State was a different story as its schedule was a bit of a breeze, but still won its first 15 games.
The Buckeyes took this series 2-1 last year, with the home team winning both games. This time around, no one knows what's going to happen. The Badgers were set to be a different team this year, scoring loads of points and playing a lot faster. That hasn't exactly worked in recent weeks as their defense has been poor to say the least.
Wisconsin's problems are on both ends of the floor though as all of its hot shooters have seemingly cooled off. Leading scorer Sam Dekker (14.0 PPG, 6.4 RPG) is 5-for-18 over the last two games and 2-for-16 from three in his last four. Ben Brust (13.2 PPG) shoots 40 percent from long range, but is 8-for-31 in his last five games. Traevon Jackson, the do-it-all point guard is just 10-for-36 over his last four games. So while the defense has been bad, it's hard to win when your top scorers aren't hitting shots.
Offense is the name of the game for Ohio State as well, who can't seem to get over that edge since losing its first game back on Jan. 7. LaQuinton Ross (14.2 PPG) and Lenzelle Smith Jr. (12.2 PPG) have been doing their jobs in that department, but those are the only two players for the Buckeyes that are somewhat consistent. Aaron Craft is great on the defensive end, but that doesn't exactly make up for his inefficiencies on offense where he's actually scoring fewer points than he was a year ago at 9.2 per game. Then there's guys like Amir Williams, Shannon Scott and Sam Thompson who all have potential, but just can't seem to find a rhythm.
So what's it going to be? Ohio State is not really a team that gets blown out, which leads us to believe this should be a close game even if Wisconsin shoots a little better than it has been. The feistiness of the OSU guards will be tough for the Badgers to deal with, so players like Dekker and Frank Kaminsky (13.1 PPG) will have to step up.
As for the Buckeyes, if someone other than Ross and Smith Jr. can go for double figures, the better chance they have at winning. In the end, it's going to come down to who wants it more. One would assume Wisconsin does on its home court, but don't underestimate Aaron Craft's senior leadership in this type of game.
Our Model's Predicted Score - Wisconsin 67 Ohio State 63
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