The #3 Ohio State Buckeyes keep control of their first-place standing in the Big Ten with a 58-52 win over the #20 Wisconsin Badgers. Preseason All-American Jared Sullinger was particularly strong with 24 points and 10 rebounds in the Buckeyes first win at the Kohl Center since 2000.
Wisconsin has become the poster-child for being outplayed, yet having the ability to somehow still be in the game. Today’s game was a perfect example while being out-rebounded (30-25), out-shot (43.1% to 40.0%) and out-hustled, but were still within a single point in the last couple of minutes.
What It Means: The Badgers are not the best team in the Big Ten; even with a different result today, it probably would have been unfair to use that statement anyways. But, what we do know is that the Buckeyes are the best team in the conference and that the Badgers showed they can play with anyone in the country. Earlier this season, they stayed within striking distance at North Carolina, another top-ten team. This bodes well for a team who should finish in the top-half of the Big Ten and get a respectable seed in the NCCA tourney.
Evans is in the midst of a breakout season and he really was UW’s best player this Saturday. With hindsight, the team probably should have fed the hot hand a little more, seeing how ugly the rest of the offense was. Despite the shooting woes, four Badgers did reach double-digit scoring; Taylor (12), Bruesewitz (11) and Berggren (10) joining Evans.
Stat of the Game: (18.5) The percentage of three-pointers made for the Badgers. UW was a dismal 5-of-27 from behind the arc. That wasn’t the only thing that went awry wrong for the Badgers as they also attempted their first free throw 33 minutes into the game. Considering all the things that didn’t go Bucky’s way, it was really shocking how close they were for most of the game.
What’s Next: After the loss to Ohio State, the path doesn’t get any easier for the Badgers who face a couple of tough road match-ups. First, they will bus up to the Twin Cities to take on an improving Minnesota club and then travel to East Lansing to take on Michigan State which should be a battle for the rights of being called the second-best team in the conference.
What did you think of the Badgers and Buckeyes match-up at the Kohl Center? Let me know by commenting below!
Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers, Green Bay Packers, and Milwaukee Brewers. He also enjoys to share Fantasy Advice from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best.Follow paulmbanks