NCAA BK

Sat, Feb 1, 2014 - 12:00 PM ET
Game Preview
 

Ohio St.-Wisconsin Preview

Share This Story

   
 

Ohio State's visit Saturday to Wisconsin looked like such an enticing game between two Big Ten contenders a month ago.

It's interesting for different reasons now.

January for two of the league's marquee teams has been about as miserable as this winter in the Midwest. Unbeaten entering the new year, the 24th-ranked Buckeyes and 14th-ranked Badgers have combined to lose nine conference games this month, surprising developments for schools that were ranked third (Ohio State) and fourth (Wisconsin) just three weeks ago.

Whichever team loses Saturday might be dealt the knockout blow from a Big Ten race in which Michigan and Michigan State are pulling away from the pack.

''Toughness. Character. Camaraderie. Leadership,'' Buckeyes senior Lenzelle Smith Jr. said when asked what Ohio State (16-5, 3-5 Big Ten) lacked after getting upset 71-70 this week by Penn State. ''When we get hungry, I'll take us over any team in the country.''

There was similar frustration in Madison.

''We've got practice tomorrow and all we can do is get ready for the next one,'' guard Ben Brust said after the Badgers (17-4, 4-4) were upset 65-56 by Northwestern. According to the Big Ten Network, it was the first time the Nittany Lions and Wildcats won road games on the same day since Penn State joined the conference in 1993.

Both losses won't look good on each team's postseason resume, particularly the Buckeyes, which has also lost to 10th-place Nebraska. The Nittany Lions are tied with Illinois for last place.

''This feels different from past slumps because of the position we were previously in. We have to be tougher physically and mentally,'' coach Thad Matta said. ''It's been stressing us out for weeks now. I don't like this position but it is the reality of where we've put ourselves. We have to come back.''

And it will need to start against a team that has similarly struggled in recent weeks.

The Badgers started a school-best 16-0, but defensive woes uncharacteristic for coach Bo Ryan's tenure led to a three-game losing skid. Wisconsin allowed opponents to shoot at least 50 percent in each defeat.

This season, offense has been Wisconsin's strength, though that struggled, too, in the loss to the upstart Wildcats - a team it trounced 76-49 in Evanston on Jan. 2.

The Badgers shot just 27 percent against Northwestern this week. The Wildcats held the formidable frontcourt duo of Sam Dekker and Frank Kaminsky to a combined 5 of 18 from the field.

''Next game. Ohio State. Take it one game at a time still. Keep trying to knock them out,'' guard Josh Gasser said.

When they got in the lane, the Badgers had a little more success getting opportunities. Defensively, there were some lapses again in the paint.

The subpar play has frustrated the normally upbeat Dekker.

''I definitely think teams have been taking advantage of what we've been lacking, and that's being focused, being ready, being prepared,'' Dekker told reporters, according to the Journal Sentinel of Milwaukee. ''These teams are coming in and punching us in the mouth and we're not punching back. It's as simple as that.''

---

Follow Genaro Armas at http://twitter.com/GArmasAP

Tagged: Ohio State, Wisconsin, Ohio

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by



More Than Sports on MSN

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Nike Florida Gators #1 Replica Elite Basketball Jersey - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Florida_Gators/browse/featuredproduct/885881/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_885000/ff_885881_xl.jpg&w=100 74.95 Nike Florida Gators #1 Replica Elite Basketball Jersey - Black
    Nike Georgetown Hoyas #22 Hyper Elite Road Performance Jersey - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Georgetown_Hoyas/browse/featuredproduct/1030243/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1030000/ff_1030243_xl.jpg&w=100 119.95 Nike Georgetown Hoyas #22 Hyper Elite Road Performance Jersey - Navy Blue
    Nike Duke Blue Devils #5 Tourney Takeover Replica T-Shirt - Duke Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Duke_Blue_Devils/browse/featuredproduct/1032710/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1032000/ff_1032710_xl.jpg&w=100 27.95 Nike Duke Blue Devils #5 Tourney Takeover Replica T-Shirt - Duke Blue
    Nike Oregon Ducks X-Ray Ball T-Shirt - Green http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Oregon_Ducks/browse/featuredproduct/1052002/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1052000/ff_1052002_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Oregon Ducks X-Ray Ball T-Shirt - Green
    Nike Ohio State Buckeyes Road Warrior Tri-blend T-Shirt - Scarlet http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Ohio_State_Buckeyes/browse/featuredproduct/1052645/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1052000/ff_1052645_xl.jpg&w=100 29.95 Nike Ohio State Buckeyes Road Warrior Tri-blend T-Shirt - Scarlet
    Indiana Hoosiers 2013 NCAA Men\'s Basketball Road to March Madness T-Shirt - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Indiana_Hoosiers/browse/featuredproduct/1124528/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1124000/ff_1124528_xl.jpg&w=100 19.95 Indiana Hoosiers 2013 NCAA Men\'s Basketball Road to March Madness T-Shirt - Cri..
    adidas Louisville Cardinals 2013 March Madness #10 Premier Swingman Jersey - Red http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Louisville_Cardinals/browse/featuredproduct/1127200/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1127000/ff_1127200_xl.jpg&w=100 89.95 adidas Louisville Cardinals 2013 March Madness #10 Premier Swingman Jersey - Red
    adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish 2013 March Madness #45 Premier Swingman Jersey - White http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Notre_Dame_Fighting_Irish/browse/featuredproduct/1127218/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1127000/ff_1127218_xl.jpg&w=100 89.95 adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish 2013 March Madness #45 Premier Swingman Jersey ..
    Nike Gonzaga Bulldogs March Madness Bracketville T-Shirt - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Gonzaga_Bulldogs/browse/featuredproduct/1155821/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1155000/ff_1155821_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Gonzaga Bulldogs March Madness Bracketville T-Shirt - Navy Blue
    Top of the World Miami Hurricanes 2013 NCAA ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament Champions Adjustable Hat – Green http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Miami_Hurricanes/browse/featuredproduct/1177723/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1177000/ff_1177723_xl.jpg&w=100 25.95 Top of the World Miami Hurricanes 2013 NCAA ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament Cham..