Big Ten brawl pits Badgers at Buckeyes

Updated: January 29, 2013

Thad Matta and his 11th-ranked Buckeyes face
another tough Big Ten Conference test as Ohio State hosts the Wisconsin
Badgers at Value City Arena.

OSU has won three of the last five meetings with the Badgers, including two
of the last three played in Columbus. The recent success has helped the
Buckeyes increase their all-time series lead to 83-66. These two will square
off again on Feb. 17 in Madison.

Bo Ryan’s Badgers are once again one of the best defensive squads in the
nation. After holding the opposition to an NCAA Division I low of 53.2 ppg in
2011-12, Wisconsin is sixth in the rankings with only 54.9 points allowed per
tilt this season. The ability to frustrate and stifle an opponent was on
display in its last appearance, as it clipped Minnesota, 45-44, to improve to
14-6 overall and 5-2 in the conference standings. The victory ended a brief
two-game slide that followed a 64-59 victory over Indiana in Bloomington. The
wins over the Golden Gophers and Hoosiers give Ryan’s team a 3-3 record versus
ranked foes on the year.

Wisconsin has a very balanced offensive attack that features a handful of
players capable of netting 10 points or more on any given night. Jared
Berggren (12.0 ppg.), Ryan Evans (10.9 ppg.) and Ben Brust (10.4 ppg.) all
contribute double figures offensively. Evans leads the team with 7.8 rebounds
a game. Sam Dekker produced 10 points and six rebounds off the bench to propel
the Badgers past Minnesota in his most recent appearance. Senior forward Mike
Bruesewitz was held scoreless versus the Gophers, but the big man with
excellent 3-point touch is unlikely to be held in check in back-to-back games.

The Buckeyes notched their fourth victory in five outings on Saturday as they
coasted to a 65-51 decision over Penn State on the road. Ohio State is not
only just behind the visitors in the scoring defense column (57.8 ppg), but it
is also fourth in the Big Ten on the offensive end with 73.0 ppg. Matta’s
squad has not been defeated by an unranked foe all season and has experienced
just one setback on its own floor (Kansas, 74-66).

Unlike Wisconsin, Ohio State has a superb go-to-guy on the offensive end.
DeShaun Thomas scored 20 points or more in five consecutive games to begin the
Big Ten season before letting his foot off of the pedal to tally 27 total
points over his last two. Thomas is pacing the Big Ten in scoring with 20.0
ppg and also ranks 11th in rebounding with 6.5 per tilt. Lenzelle Smith Jr.
chips in 10.2 ppg, while Aaron Craft continues to be considered one of the top
point guards in the country due to his passing (4.7 apg) and strong on-ball
defense (2.0 spg).