Columbus, OH (Sports Network) - 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).