A little over a week ago, I wrote about how Ohio State’s next three games would make or break their season. They had a home game against the Indiana Hoosiers coming up, followed by road meetings with the Michigan Wolverines and Wisconsin Badgers. The IU game, without a doubt, was a must-win game, and the Buckeyes did just that, knocking off Indiana, 68-59.
I thought if Ohio State (15-8, 5-7) could at least split the two road games, they’d be in good shape to stay afloat in the Big Ten race, and avoid sinking to the basement of the conference. By beating Michigan 61-58 in Ann Arbor this week, Chris Holtmann’s squad has done just that. That win put them in a position to take a clean sweep of all three games if they could topple the Badgers (14-10, 7-6).
A win on Sunday would leapfrog the Buckeyes over both Wisconsin and Minnesota and into eighth place in the conference, and only three games behind the first-place Maryland Terrapins (that’s how crowded the conference is right now). A loss would keep them locked into a three-way tie for 10th with Michigan and Indiana.
Unfortunately, that clean sweep was just not to be. Despite leading 13-7 early in this one, the Buckeyes were unable to put out the fire that was the Wisconsin offense, losing 70-57. After getting up by six early, Wisconsin outscored the Buckeyes 31-7 the rest of the first half, putting Ohio State in an 18-point hole at the break that they would never recover from. Andre Wesson led Ohio State with 11 points, while Brevin Pritzl led the Badgers with 19.
The key run that separated Wisconsin was a six minute stretch where Kaleb Wesson was off the floor. After picking up his second foul of the game at the 7:34 mark, he took a seat on the bench. At the time, the Buckeyes trailed 18-15. When Wesson checked back in at the 1:06 mark, Ohio State trailed 33-20, a 10-point swing. In order to survive in the toughest conference in college basketball, Ohio State is going to have to learn how to survive without their star player on the floor.
These are the main storylines that accompanied the Badgers’ thumping of the Buckeyes, their second win over Ohio State this season:
After only turning the ball over eight times during their win over Michigan this week, many people were wondering if Ohio State had finally figured out their turnover issues. Unfortunately this was not the case, as Ohio State followed that performance with a 14 turnover day at Wisconsin, including nine in the first half when the Badgers pulled away.
Missing D.J. Carton certainly isn’t helping the Buckeyes ball handling, as they’re now with one less “traditional” point guard, but the turnover issue is a widespread problem. Only four of the Buckeyes’ 14 turnovers on Sunday came from their guards, the others were spread evenly among the rest of the team. Andre Wesson led the team Sunday with four turnovers.
Wisconsin could not be stopped from downtown on Sunday, raining 12 three-pointers on the Buckeyes, including eight of them in their first half barrage. Brevin Pritzl had five 3’s for the Badgers as part of his team-leading 19 points.
The Buckeyes, on the other hand, hit six of their 19 shots from downtown on Sunday, for a 31.6 three-point percentage. Andre Wesson had a team-high three three’s.
Ohio State entered the game as the best three-point shooting team in the conference at 38.2 percent. Wisconsin was the seventh best three-point shooting team, coming in at 33 percent. They shot 37.5 percent today.
With today’s win, Wisconsin is now 11-1 at home, as opposed to 3-9 on the road/neutral site. They are also 9-0 at home against unranked opponents. Ohio State knew what they were getting into when they got off the plane in Madison, Wisconsin, but today’s contest showed just how tough it can be to beat Wisconsin in the Kohl Center when the crowd gets behind them.
If there is any consolation for Ohio State, it is: a) Wisconsin can’t play at home in the Big Ten Tournament if they meet up again come March, and b) the Buckeyes won their previous two road games before this clunker, beating Northwestern and Michigan on the road. Three straight road wins would have been remarkable, but I think Chris Holtmann and Buckeye Nation should be proud of the Bucks for taking two of their last three road games.
You’re a Badger, Potter
Micah Potter, the former Ohio State center who transferred to Wisconsin last season and had to sit out a year and a half to become eligible, was in the starting lineup for the first time ever for the Badgers on Sunday. Ironically, his first start came against his former team, where he had to match up with his old teammates Kaleb Wesson and Kyle Young for most of the game.
The Badger big man had a better game than both of his former teammates, racking up nine points on 3-of-7 shooting while also grabbing five rebounds and blocking two shots in 24 minutes. Wesson, in comparison, had eight points on 2-of-11 shooting and six rebounds in 27 minutes. Young had four points, three rebounds, and three assists in 19 minutes.
All bunched up
Following their loss today, Ohio State is now 5-7 in conference play, tying them with Indiana and Michigan for 10th place. Minnesota is a half game ahead of the trio with a record of 6-7. Purdue and Wisconsin sit just a game and a half above the Buckeyes now, and Rutgers is two games up. There is still plenty of time to climb the ranks of the congested B1G, but picking up home wins this week against Purdue and Rutgers will be crucial to them getting back in the mix.
The current Big Ten standings look like this:
B1G Standings as of February 9, 2020 (Post OSU-UW)
The Buckeyes’ next action on the hardwood will come Wednesday night at home against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (16-7, 7-5). Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. and that game will be broadcast on BTN.