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College Basketball Pick
It may be early, but Ohio State's chances at an NCAA tournament bid are already fleeting. Wisconsin doesn't have those same issues, but the Badgers are coming off a loss at Purdue in which they looked outmatched almost the entire way.
As for the Buckeyes, they've lost their first three Big Ten games and have thrown away the wins they picked up earlier in the season. They've kept things tight, but playing in this conference, that won't be enough to earn a bid. They have another tall task in this one against a hungry, experienced Badgers team looking to start another win streak.
These teams had similar rosters a year ago when Wisconsin led the entire way in a 79-68 win led by Nigel Hayes with 21 points, although four starters had at least 12 points. Playing on the road is already a noticeable issue for OSU and that'll likely be the case again in Madison. The Bucks fell at Illinois and this past Sunday started in a 21-6 hole at Minnesota.
But while Wisconsin is experienced and balanced, the same can actually be said of Ohio State with five players averaging at least 10.4 points per game. However, the problem for them is that junior Keita Bates-Diop is out for the season with a leg injury (was averaging 9.7 ppg). Another reason for losses is that while they are balanced, the Buckeyes have a problem of putting it all together in the same game. Their five starters can go off on any given night, but can also struggle against any opponent.
Jae'Sean Tate went 4-of-12 from the field for nine points in the loss at Illinois. JaQuan Lyle was 3-of-11 for eight points in the loss to Purdue. Marc Loving and Kam Williams combined to go 4-of-21 for 13 points at Minnesota. These types of outings have plagued Ohio State for a couple years and will likely be the problem at Wisconsin in this game, a team with a consistently good defense.
The Badgers are led by three guys that do a little bit of everything, but mainly Ethan Happ, who seemingly never has a bad game. Happ is averaging 13.1 ppg and 9.4 reb and while Bronson Koenig (14.3 ppg) and Nigel Hayes (13.7 ppg, 3.2 apg) have the bigger names, Happ is what makes it all work. The Bucks may be able to keep this game close, but when it comes down to it, they'll have a tough time containing both Happ and Hayes around the basket. That's where the absence of Bates-Diop could hurt the most.
Ohio State will need Trevor Thompson to own the paint, while getting a little extra from someone like Kam Williams, who couldn't hit a shot last game at Minnesota. The Buckeyes have the talent and experience, but lack consistency and that's something that could easily put them in another hole against a Wisconsin team that doesn't want to lose two straight.
With a loss here, OSU will be reeling and things don't get easier in this year's Big Ten, with most teams providing a challenge each night. As for Wisconsin, they don't play Purdue again and are looking to go on another winning streak.
Our Pick - Wisconsin by 15
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