Two teams heading in opposite directions square off this afternoon when the Ohio State Buckeyes travel to Madison to take on the Wisconsin Badgers. The Buckeyes will be looking for their fourth straight win, while Wisconsin will be trying to avoid their fourth loss in the last five games.
Just over a week after avenging their loss last month to Indiana, Ohio State has some more revenge on their minds when they take on the Wisconsin Badgers, who defeated the Buckeyes 61-57 on January 3rd in Columbus. This is Ohio State’s first trip to Madison since December 2017, when the Buckeyes blasted the Badgers 83-58. Aside from that win against Wisconsin, Ohio State hasn’t had much success against the Badgers lately, losing five of the last seven meetings.
Ohio State enters today’s game riding a three-game winning streak, while Wisconsin has lost three of their last four games. The latest win for the Buckeyes came on Tuesday night, when Ohio State gutted out a 61-58 win over rival Michigan in Ann Arbor. The Buckeyes were helped when Zavier Simpson was called for a flagrant foul on Kyle Young with 34 seconds left. Young hit both free throws to give Ohio State a 59-58 lead. On the ensuing possession, C.J. Walker added two more free throws with 18 seconds left in the game to secure the victory for the Buckeyes.
Kaleb Wesson continued his strong play in the victory over Michigan, scoring 23 points and pulling down 12 rebounds. The double-double was Wesson’s third straight, and 10th of the season. The Buckeyes are 8-2 this year when Wesson records a double-double, and 14-2 in his career at Ohio State. With his recent stretch of hot play, Wesson is nearly averaging a double-double for the season, scoring 14.3 points per game and grabbing 9.8 rebounds per game.
Wesson continued his rise up the all-time ranks at Ohio State, and now sits 44th all-time with 1,121 points. The junior will likely move up a couple more spots today, as just ahead of Wesson is Brad Sellers, who scored 1,122 career points at Ohio State, and Richard Schnittker, who recorded 1,129 points as a Buckeye. On the glass, Wesson will reach 600 career rebound with the next rebound he is credited with.
After going just 4-21 from the field in his previous two games, Duane Washington Jr. started to regain some of his form on Tuesday night, shooting 7-14 from the field and finishing with 17 points off the bench for Ohio State. With D.J. Carton sidelined indefinitely as he addresses his mental health, Washington is Ohio State’s second-leading scorer this season, averaging 11.1 points per game.
The only other starter aside from Kaleb Wesson to score more than two points for Ohio State on Tuesday night was Kyle Young, who finished with 12 points and five rebounds. Andre Wesson, Luther Muhammad, and C.J. Walker went a combined 0-13 from the field, with the only points from the trio coming from Walker, who buried two foul shots late in the game. While the Buckeyes were able to grab the victory on Tuesday night, there won’t be many contests they’ll be able to win the rest of the season if Wesson, Washington, and Young don’t get any help.
Now Ohio State will turn their attention to a Wisconsin team that beat them in Columbus last month 61-57. The Buckeyes trailed the Badgers 29-25 at halftime, but came out of the break on a 13-2 run. Ohio State couldn’t make the lead stick though, as late three-pointers by Nate Reuvers and Brevin Pritzl gave Wisconsin a 55-51 lead. The Buckeyes were able to close the gap to 55-54, but weren’t able to wrestle the lead away from the Badgers.
Kaleb Wesson was a force in the first meeting with the Badgers, scoring 22 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. Duane Washington Jr. added 18 points, but he struggled shooting the basketball, going just 6-19 from the field. Ohio State was done in by their carelessness with the basketball, committing 14 turnovers in the loss.
Wisconsin comes into this game having lost three of their last four games. Greg Gard’s squad is a team in turmoil right now, as second-leading scorer Kobe King has announced his intention to transfer after allegations that a university staff member directed a racial epithet towards King. The redshirt sophomore was averaging 10 points per game for the Badgers before announcing his intention to transfer. King scored 13 points against the Buckeyes when the teams met last month.
On Wednesday night the Badgers showed little fight in a 70-52 loss at Minnesota. Wisconsin went into halftime trailing 45-32, and things got worse in the second half, with the Badgers scoring just 20 points after halftime. Nate Reuvers scored a team-high 14 points, while Aleem Ford added 11 points. The Badgers finished the game shooting just 28% from the field against the Golden Gophers.
About the only positive in the loss to Minnesota for Wisconsin came from former Buckeye Micah Potter. The junior forward scored 11 points and pulled down 15 rebounds in the loss, recording his second double-double of the season. In his first season with the Badgers, Potter is averaging 9.2 points per game and 6.1 rebounds per game in 13 games. Potter played 11 minutes in his return to Columbus last month, scoring four points.
While Potter will want to earn another victory against his old team, the Buckeyes will have to pay attention to another Wisconsin big. Nate Reuvers scored 17 points in the first meeting this year between the schools, and nearly recorded a double-double by pulling down nine rebounds. So far this season Reuvers is averaging a team-high 13.8 points per game. Ohio State has to be careful with the length of Reuvers, as the junior is averaging two blocked shots per game.
Another important Wisconsin player is D’Mitrick Trice, who does a little bit of everything for the Badgers. In the loss to Minnesota, Trice scored 10 points, dished out six assists, and grabbed five rebounds. Trice is averaging 9.7 points per game, 4.4 rebounds per game, and 3.7 assists per game. Trice’s importance has been magnified lately with the loss of King. In the last three games, Trice has been on the floor for 112 of a possible 120 minutes.
One Badger who will work the nerves of the Buckeyes is Brad Davison. The guard found himself in hot water recently after hitting Iowa’s Connor McCaffery in the groin. The junior was called for a flagrant foul and also suspended for a game by the Big Ten. While Davison is hit-or-miss on the offensive end, he always finds a way to get under the skin of opponents on the defensive end. The Buckeyes will have to keep their composure when dealing with Davison and not let his annoyance swing the game in favor of the Badgers.
ESPN BPI: Wisconsin 50.6%
It’s never easy to hit the road and earn a win in the Big Ten, but the Buckeyes are heading to Madison at just the right time. Not only have the Buckeyes seen their confidence rise with three straight wins, but Wisconsin is reeling after Kobe King announced his intention to transfer. Even with Wisconsin dealing with some turmoil, expect the Badgers to push Ohio State to the limit this afternoon.
Ohio State will go as far as Kaleb Wesson can take them in this game. The junior already showed he can put up numbers against the Badgers, going for 22 points and 13 rebounds last month, but he needs some support. Duane Washington Jr. found his rhythm on Tuesday night against Michigan, and it will be huge for the Buckeyes if the guard can build off that performance.
One thing Ohio State can’t see happening today that happened on Tuesday is the performances they got from Andre Wesson and Luther Muhammad. Wesson has been solid throughout the year, so it was likely just an off-night, but at some point Muhammad has to step up and make some shots for the Buckeyes. The importance of what Muhammad is capable of bringing to the table is magnified by the loss of D.J. Carton.
While Ohio State isn’t quite back to the level they were at to start the season, there is no doubt this team is waking up from their January slump. Today’s game isn’t going to be for the faint of heart, but the Buckeyes do have experience going into tough environments and leaving with a victory. Ohio State earns revenge for last month’s loss to the Badgers in Columbus, and continues to work their way back up the Big Ten standings.