Ohio State is in trouble and so are their NCAA tournament hopes. Since the loss of Kaleb Wesson to suspension, the Buckeyes are 0-2 and have been outscored 154-101 by Purdue and Northwestern. Without Kaleb, this OSU squad looks completely different on both sides of the ball. Dribbling out the shot clock, stagnant on offense and zero movement off the ball has put the Buckeyes in difficult positions to put points on the board.
With Wesson being out again on Sunday, the Buckeyes will turn to their young guys to come in and make an impact (again) against another formidable opponent in Wisconsin. The main issue Ohio State will have to try and figure out is Ethan Happ. Happ is one of the best centers in the country and will have a field day on Ohio State if guys like Jaedon LeDee and Kyle Young cannot contain him.
Since the loss of Wesson to suspension, starting centers facing Ohio State are averaging 16 points per game and 9.5 rebounds while shooting it at 76 percent. These are guys that are not on the level of Happ and if they do not figure out a way to control him, it will be one of the easiest games of the year for the Badger center.
Happ is leading the Badgers in all of the major categories with 17.9 points per game, 10.2 rebounds per game and 4.6 assists per game while shooting the ball at 53 percent from the field. He has been a great player for Wisconsin ever since he arrived in Madison and will look to finish out his career on a high note.
For the Buckeyes, they will look to CJ Jackson and Keyshawn Woods to be the veteran leaders in Wesson’s absence, as well as Kaleb’s older brother Andre. Jackson is averaging 11.8 points per game and 3.4 assists but has had trouble handling the basketball and is turning the ball over. Woods has had some decent performances, but overall, it’s been a disappointing year thus far, as he is only averaging 7 points per game and is shooting the ball at 28 percent from three.
For the Badgers, they are led by Happ, but have an all around cast of players that contribute for them. D’Mitrik Trice is averaging 12.1 points per game, Brad Davison is averaging 10.8, and guys like Nate Reuvers and Khalil Iverson are also contributors that give the Badgers valuable minutes.
ESPN BPI: Wisconsin 54.2%
Ohio State is a good team that has the talent to defeat a team like Wisconsin and if they want to make the tournament this year, a win against a ranked team to end the season would go a long way. The problem is they have not found a way to even stay competitive in a basketball game while Kaleb Wesson is on the bench
It seems like an odd decision for Chris Holtmann and the administration to keep Kaleb Wesson suspended while the teams tournament hopes hang in the balance. While we still do not know what the exact suspension was for, Holtmann did say that the he will return this season so you can expect him to return for the Big Ten tournament.
With Wesson being out and Happ being all the way in, it is tough to go against Wisconsin in this one. Ohio State will need at least one win and maybe two in the Big Ten tournament to secure a spot in the big dance.