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NCAA Basketball Big 10 BasketballOhio State BuckeyesWisconsin Badgers

Wisconsin and Ohio State Both Face Must-Win Game in Big Ten Clash

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

At the start of the season, a matchup between the Wisconsin Badgers and the Ohio State Buckeyes looked like one of the best matchups on the entire season on paper. The on-court results haven’t played out to the preseason hype.

With the likes of Aaron Craft for the Buckeyes and Sam Dekker for the Badgers, both teams boast some of the best players in the country yet both have struggled in Big 10 play.

The Buckeyes started the year 16-0 and looked as good as their glory days of Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr. in 2007, yet the Buckeyes have lost five of their last six, all in conference, including baffling losses to the Nebraska Cornhuskers and conference doormat Penn State Nittany Lions.

The Badgers, like the Buckeyes, got off to a 16-0 start, and just like the Buckeyes they have struggled in conference, losing four of the previous five, including an embarrassing loss to the Northwestern Wildcats.

Today’s game in Madison will be a must-win for these teams. With Michigan and Michigan State atop the conference at 9-0 and 8-1, respectively, whoever loses this game will most likely be eliminated from regular season title contention.

The Badgers haven’t been the Badgers of old as they have lost their defensive identity and have been able to put the ball in the basket. This year under coach Bo Ryan, the Badgers allowed 70 or more points in three of their four conference losses, uncharacteristic for a team known consistently for holding teams to the low 60s.

The Buckeyes, much like the Badgers, have also lost their defensive identity. The Buckeyes sport the eighth best defense in the nation in terms of points per game under coach Thad Matta, but in their five losses, the Buckeyes have allowed more than 65 points in four of the five games.

Prediction: In a matchup of evenly matched teams both struggling, I’ll go with the home team to pull off a nail-biter late.