It's a battle of two teams..."/>

It's a battle of two teams..."/>

It's a battle of two teams..."/>

Game # 25 Preview: #1 Ohio State vs. #14 Wisconsin


It’s a battle of two teams that haven’t lost on Saturday as the Ohio State Buckeyes head to Madison to take on the Wisconsin Badgers. For the Buckeyes, to this point it’s been a perfect season. For the Badgers, they look to continue their undefeated streak against the Buckeyes at the Kohl Center under the tutelage of Bo Ryan.

This game has all the makings of a true barn burner and ESPN is bringing in the Dick Vitale cavalry. It’s going to be awesome baby with a capital A! We will also be live blogging with the great folks at Buckeye Battle Cry so be ready to join us for what has been anticipated for quite some time as the game of the year.

Let’s break it down.

It’s been considered the game on the schedule to watch for many reasons. As mentioned before, it’s the battle of “unbeaten.” In the Bo Ryan era, the Buckeyes have not been able to break the ice at Kohl Center. Our Buckeyes are facing the toughest team they have seen all year. Beyond the grind you out style the Badgers present, their rebounding style and offensive pressure is beyond matchable.

If they can shut down the big freshman, then it’s definitely going to be an interesting game.

Jared Sullinger is the center of this offense. The Buckeyes throw it down low and let the offense work through him on the perimeter. The Buckeyes have the bodies inside to shut down the nucleus. The only question that remains is if those bodies have the ability to shut down Sullinger. As always, it comes down to execution and personnel.

Our nemesis Badger of Honor breaks it down for us by position.

"While the best overall player in the game will be Jared Sullinger, the next two are Jordan Taylor and Jon Leuer for Wisconsin.  Here are additional matchup thoughts.Sullinger will be a load as he always his, the key will be limiting him to a good game and not allow an out of this world game.Jordan Taylor will have an advantage over his freshman counterpart Aaron Craft.  Craft has had some very good games this year but mostly at home.  He has not dealt with a combination of Taylor at the point and the atmosphere of the Kohl Center.Keaton Nankivil will be key.  If he is hitting outside shots he can open up a lot of options.  He will also dictate what lineups Ohio State goes with.  If they go big with Dallas Lauderdale he should get open outside looks, if they go small he can go inside.  Nankivil will be key.David Lighty and William Buford.  Ohio States athletic wings are the keys for them to exploit.  The Badgers will have to use Ryan Evans a lot on Saturday to match some of the athleticism of Lighty and Buford.Keep Diebler in check.  Jon Diebler is an unbelievable shooter, probably the best pure shooter in the country.  The Badgers do not extend the defense past the three point line but for Diebler they will have to.  My strategy against shooters like Diebler that get so many screens and do not need a lot of time to get a shot off would be to sacrifice some length for quickness.  A shorter quicker guy can stick to him better and get underneath him so he never feels comfortable.  Long guys usually effect shots by lunging at the shooter late which will not effect Diebler."

I’d have to agree with most points, but is Jordan Taylor really a weapon? In his last outing against Iowa he only shot 6 of 18 from the field. He logged 44 minutes in the game and continues to wear the tread on the tires.  Aaron Craft is on fresh legs. He continues to flash on the court and make things happen for the Buckeyes.  He is just aggressive on the defensive side of the floor as Taylor is on the offensive. Taylor has an edge on the court without a doubt, considering this game is at Kohl Center. But if the Badgers want to win this game they are going to have to be efficient from the field.

The Buckyes do not turn over the basketball. They don’t give up too many easy defensive rebounds. They also don’t allow you to kick out the basketball to shoot the open look three.

For every team there is always a winning formula. Sometimes it gets diluted during the season. Other times you have to give up on it for a short while. Any time the big fella hasn’t had a good game offensively this season, the offense has went outside the arc. Think back to Florida Gulf Coast when Jon Diebler hit nine three pointers in the game, all coming without a miss.  When many questioned the durability of the Buckeyes offense before taking on Purdue, the squad answered with nearly 50% of their field goals coming from 16′ out or deeper.

And the shots fell down nearly 60% of the time.

The biggest key for the buckeyes will be getting the athletic guards involved in the game. If David Lighty and William Buford can slash to the hoop and break from defenders than offensively, they can muster enough to pull out this defensive battle.

Kohl Center will play a major factor in this game, as it is the new Breslin Center of the Big Ten. Teams without a doubt have a hard time playing there. The question is can the youngsters adjust.

We’ll find out Saturday Afternoon.

Game Notes:

  • If Wisconsin wins on Saturday, it will be the first time a school has defeated the same number one school in football and basketball within the same academic year since Florida beat Ohio State in both sports.
  • The Buckeyes are ranked sixth nationally when it comes to scoring defense. This could be the difference in a very close match-up on both ends of the floor.
  • Home Court Advantage? Ohio State has won its last 13 true road games since finishing the 2009-10 season with five-consecutive road victories and starting this season with wins at then-No. 9 Florida (11/16/10), at Florida State (11/30/10), at Indiana (12/31/10), at Iowa (1/4/11),  at Michigan (1/12/11), at No. 23 Illinois (1/22/11), at Northwestern (1/29/11) and most recently at Minnesota (2/6/11). The last road loss was at No. 11 West Virginia Jan. 23, 2010. (From Sports information).
  • The Big Three? – The Buckeyes have three of the most productive freshman in the conference. Jared Sullinger is the leading freshman point scorer and rebounder, while forward Deshaun Thomas ranks fourth in points and fifth in rebounds. Point guard Aaron Craft leads all freshman in the conference  in steals and assists.

Ohio State leads the all-time series against the Badgers 81-64 with Wisconsin holding a 42-27 record at home. The Buckeyes when ranked, hold a 19-9 record against the Badgers.

(Make Sure you join the Buckeye Blogosphere tomorrow, as we blog live during the game!. The chatting begins at 1:30 PM ET)