The Ohio State Buckeyes and Wisconsin Badgers entered Sunday competing for position in a crowded Big Ten standings. However, by the end of the day the Badgers asserted themselves as the better team and edged a game clear in the race for a Big Ten title with a 71-49 win over the Buckeyes.
The Buckeyes’ offense was a complete mess, shooting just 37.5 percent from the field. Deshaun Thomas once again led Ohio State with his 18 points and Sam Thompson had 10, but nobody else asserted themselves as a true threat. Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith Jr. combined for just 10 points while shooting 4-for-13. The Buckeyes got no production from the bench despite five players playing more than 10 minutes after coming off the bench. The outside shooting was not any better as Ohio State only hit three shots from behind the arc.
As bad as the Buckeyes offense was, its defense was not much better. Wisconsin shot almost 53 percent from the field and had four players in double figures. Jared Berggren and Ben Brust led the Badgers with 15 points a piece and Sam Dekker added 13 points off the bench. Dekker outscored the Ohio State bench by himself and hit as many three-pointers as the entire Buckeyes lineup. The key was an 18-0 Wisconsin run in the first half in which the Badgers pulled away from the Buckeyes and never looked back. The Buckeyes 17-point halftime deficit was the largest since March 2007 when Ohio State trailed Tennessee by the same margin, but found a way to comeback and win the game.
This was a big game for both teams as the season winds down and tournament seeding becomes paramount. For Ohio State not to be competitive in a game of this magnitude is an issue which Thad Matta must address moving forward.