After falling in overtime to Butler on Sunday in Portland, Ohio State returned home on Wednesday night, but couldn’t make a double-digit lead in the second half stick against Clemson in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Musa Jallow put Ohio State ahead 47-37 with 16 minutes to go in the second half on Wednesday, but Clemson dominated the Buckeyes the rest of the way, beating Ohio State 79-65 to hand the Buckeyes their fourth straight loss in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
This year’s Big Ten Tournament will have a different feel to it, as the tournament will be held a week earlier than normal due to scheduling at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The world’s most famous arena had already committed to hosting the Big East Tournament during the time when the Big Ten normally holds their conference tournament, forcing the Big Ten to rearrange their scheduling. While Ohio State played Penn State in November in 1998, this is the earliest Wisconsin has ever opened up conference play.
Ohio State holds an 87-70 edge all-time against Wisconsin, but the Badgers have gotten the better of Ohio State of late. Prior to Ohio State winning 83-73 in Columbus in February, Wisconsin had won the previous three games in the series, with all of those wins coming by double-digits. C.J. Jackson scored a then career-high 18 points in the victory. The win over the Badgers was Ohio State’s first over a ranked team in almost a year.
Wisconsin could very easily be 7-0 right now instead of 3-4. After winning their first two games to start the season, Wisconsin has lost four of their last five games, with all four of those losses coming to ranked teams. All of Wisconsin’s losses have seen the Badgers either tied or trailing by two points with two minutes left in the game. If the Badgers hadn’t lost so much of their core from last year’s squad, some of those losses might have been turned into wins.
On Monday night, Wisconsin fell in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge 49-37 to Virginia in Charlottesville, snapping a two-game winning streak for the Badgers in the annual event. Wisconsin struggled mightily shooting the basketball as they tried to crack Virginia’s suffocating defense, shooting just 31% from the field, and hitting just three of their 20 three-point attempts.
Wisconsin might have to work a little harder than in past years if they want to secure an NCAA Tournament bid for the 20th straight season. After making it to the Final Four in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons, Wisconsin has made it to the Sweet Sixteen the past two years. Last year the Badgers took on Florida in the NCAA Tournament, losing in overtime to the Gators to finish the year with a 27-10 record.
Numbers to know
Keita Bates-Diop grabbed seven rebounds on Wednesday night against Clemson, which helped the junior cross the 400 rebound mark for his career. To go along with his rebounding total, the forward has scored 739 points during his time in Columbus. Bates-Diop is averaging 17.4 points per game and 9.9 rebounds per game, and if he continues that pace for the rest of the year, he’ll join Jae’Sean Tate as active Buckeyes to record 1,000 points and 500 rebounds during their Ohio State career.
Ohio State has compiled a 57-46 record all-time in conference openers. Last year, the Buckeyes opened up their Big Ten schedule with a 75-70 loss to Illinois on the road, snapping a streak in which they had won their first Big Ten road game in each of the prior three seasons. Ohio State is 18-26 when they play their first conference game of the year on the road, and 37-64 in their first conference road game.
Wisconsin has plenty of scoring they have to try and replace this year. Gone from last year’s team are Nigel Hayes, Bronson Koenig, Vitto Brown, Zak Showalter, and Jordan Hill, who combined for 4,802 points during their time in Madison. Hayes was the most prolific scorer of the bunch, recording 1,857 for the Badgers, while Koenig added 1,459. Wisconsin’s leading returning scorer is Ethan Happ, with the junior scoring 951 points in his first two seasons with the school.
Cast of characters
The senior forward is just three points away from 1,200 for his Ohio State career. Tate currently sits in 37th on Ohio State’s all-time scoring list and is 14 points away from tying Luke Witte for 36th. This will be Tate’s fifth career game against Wisconsin. In the previous four games against the Badgers, Tate has averaged 11.8 points per game and 6.3 rebounds per game. In Ohio State’s 83-73 win over Wisconsin in February, Tate registered 15 points and 12 rebounds.
If Ohio State is going to make any noise in the Big Ten this year, the Buckeyes will need a lot more than they have been getting lately from Kam Williams. The senior guard started off the season hot, scoring 16 points in the season opener against Robert Morris, but Williams has failed to reach double figures in any of the seven games since. In two of the last three games, Williams has failed to record a point. In Wednesday’s game, he went scoreless in 17 minutes, missing both of the shots he took. If the guard can get a couple threes to fall, maybe it will restore some confidence in the sharpshooter.
The only returning starter from last year’s team has had to shoulder much of the load for the Badgers so far this season. Happ is averaging 17.6 points per game, 9.1 rebounds per game, and 3.1 assists per game. Happ was one of just two Badgers to reach double figures in the loss to Virginia on Monday night, finishing with a team-high 14 points. The redshirt junior’s best performance of the year came against Baylor, when he recorded 23 points and 13 rebounds in the narrow loss to the Bears.
The junior from Delaware, Ohio spent his first two years in Madison coming off the bench, but now is the guard’s time to shine for the Badgers. Iverson has seen his minutes double now that he has assumed a starter’s role, and is averaging 7.1 points per game and 4.4 rebounds per game for Wisconsin. Iverson has reached double figures in scoring on two occasions this season, scoring a season-high 17 points in the win over Yale, and following that up with 14 points in a 72-70 loss to UCLA.
How to watch:
Game time: 5:00 p.m. ET
Radio: 97.1 WBNS-FM
Streaming: FOX Sports Go
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