Wisconsin has historically gone 1-18 against No. 1 ranked teams in program history and that one win came nearly 50 years ago against the very same Ohio State University. Can UW pull off the upset and knock off the undefeated Buckeyes?
Before tonight's tip-off, BadgerBlitz.com analyzes the potential matchups between the Badgers and Buckeyes to provide a closer look at UW's key Big Ten matchup.
-UW's currently riding a 16-game winning streak at home. In fact, UW's only loss in the past 35 games inside the Kohl Center came against Illinois last season.
-Ohio State has never beaten a Ryan coached team inside the Kohl Center. It's the only venue Thad Matta hasn't figured out and gotten a win.
-Taylor's 3.89 assist-to-turnover ratio is tops in the nation. UW's 1.78 assist-to-turnover ratio as a team also ranks No. 1 in the nation. He also ranks second in the big ten with 20.3 points per game in conference play.
Lighty is one of four players for Ohio State averaging better than 10 points per game. He's long and rangy at the point guard position and that makes it difficult for opposing guards to defend. The same could be said about Taylor, however, as he is emerging as one of the best true point guards in the country. After receiving a day off following the gritty win at Iowa, Taylor is hopefully rested enough to play yet another rigorous game against the Buckeyes.
Buford has to be regarded as an 'X-factor' during today's game. He's averaging 13.6 points per game and seems to be more assertive going to the rim than he has been in the past. For Gasser, and probably a little bit of Jarmusz, shutting Buford down is more important than it is for them to score points.
Jarmusz has emerged as one of the better defenders the Badgers have. If he is indeed guarding Diebler he'll have to shut down the perimeter looks. Diebler has proven time and again that he is one of the more dangerous shooters in the entire league. Today should be a tremendous defensive challenge for Jarmusz, who is playing with pretty high confidence right now.
The beauty about Bo Ryan's swing offense is the fact he's got a couple of 'bigs' that can draw defenders away from the rim. It's vital for Leuer to hit a couple of shots from the perimeter, particularly in the early going, to establish that shot and pull Lauderdale away from the rim. That, in turn, would allow for more success in the paint as the game wears on.
Look, Sullinger is an absolute monster. He's proven that on a game-by-game basis. The fact that he's one of the frontrunners for national player of the year speaks for itself. It can be said, though, that he hasn't played against a post defender quite like Nankivil. He may just be one of the better defenders in the entire Big Ten. If you know anything about UW basketball you know nothing will come easy for Sullinger. The fact that Nankivil is one of the best shooters on the team helps UW's cause, too.
Craft is one of the better ball handlers in the league. He's quick, deceptive and dangerous running the offense. Whenever he's in the game UW better be tuned in defensively because his first step creates a major mismatch. Conversely, if the Badgers have any hope of winning today they will absolutely need contributions from the bench. Look for guys like Bruesewitz, Evans, Berggren and Wilson to get major minutes this afternoon.
Ryan has never lost to Ohio State inside the Kohl Center and he's played a couple of really good teams. This one might be the best, though. With Sullinger and a cast of very veteran players, Ohio State has a depth through its starting five unseen by most. Having an electric and hungry crowd at its back will help UW. Can it put together a complete 40-minute game just a couple of short days after an overtime win at Iowa?
Saturday, Feb. 12, at 1:00 p.m. CT
Kohl Center (17,230)
ESPN (Dave O'Brien, Dick Vitale & Jill Montgomery)
-Wisconsin Radio Network (Matt Lepay and Mike Lucas)