OHIO STATE BUCKEYES (16-5)
at WISCONSIN BADGERS (17-4)
Kohl Center - Madison, WI
Tip-off: Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET
Line: Wisconsin -5
Two teams looking to get things turned back around meet in Madison on Saturday, as No. 24 Ohio State takes on No. 14 Wisconsin at the Kohl Center.
Last season, these two teams played three times, with Ohio State winning two of the meetings, which included a 50-43 Big Ten Tournament championship win. However, the one loss came in Madison, as the Badgers won a blowout by 22 points, 71-49. The Buckeyes moved up to No. 3 in the polls earlier in the season, starting the season 15-0 SU, but the wheels have come off since then with five SU defeats in the past six games. Ohio State (9-11 ATS overall, 3-2 ATS on the road) is coming off a 71-70 overtime loss to 13-point underdog Penn State on Wednesday night. One of the biggest problems is the fact that the Buckeyes do not have a player they can go to in the post when they need a basket. Five of the six top scorers for Ohio State are perimeter players, and C Amir Williams (9.0 PPG, 61% FG, 6.5 RPG) is a guy that gets his points off offensive rebounds. While Thad Matta’s bunch has had its struggles recently, Bo Ryan's Badgers have had their problems as well, starting the season 16-0 SU before dropping four of their past five games (SU and ATS). They are coming off a stunning 65-56 home loss to 17-point underdog Northwestern on Wednesday. Wisconsin (10-9-2 ATS overall, 5-6-1 ATS at home) shot only 26 percent in the game, including 5-of-24 from the three-point line. While the offense has struggled the past few games, the Badgers defense has not been up to the normal standards of a Bo Ryan team. In the past five contests, Wisconsin has given up 71.2 PPG.
Which Big Ten team will snap out of its funk on Saturday? For the latest college basketball picks, check out The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts selections every week throughout the entire 2013-14 season. The StatFox Experts have been rolling in college basketball Best Bets this season with a 60% ATS (186-123-5) mark, including a stellar 64% ATS (154-88) record since Nov. 23. StatFox Brian is at 65% ATS (40-22-2) in Best Bets for the season and 69% ATS (33-15-1) since Nov. 26. StatFox Dave is 62% ATS (39-24-1) for the season and 71% ATS (22-9) since Dec. 18, while StatFox Scott is a hefty 60% ATS (38-25-1) for the season and 64% ATS (28-16-1) since Dec. 2. StatFox Zach is a strong 59% ATS (36-25-2) on Best Bets this season, including 63% ATS (30-18-1) since Nov. 22, while StatFox Gary is 55% ATS (33-27-2) for the season, and 60% ATS (27-18) since Nov. 29.
If the Buckeyes are going to get back on the winning track, they are going to have get things going on the offensive end. The Buckeyes enter Saturday ranked 152nd in the nation in scoring (72.6 PPG), 126th in shooting (45.4% FG), and 166th in passing (12.9 APG). PF LaQuinton Ross (14.2 PPG, 41% threes, 5.7 RPG) is a very capable offensive player who has been the most consistent scorer for the Buckeyes. Ross is averaging 17.8 PPG in the past five games. SG Lenzelle Smith Jr. (12.2 PPG, 37% threes, 4.9 RPG) is another talented offensive player that can create mismatches on the offensive end. The main player that gets the talk on the Buckeyes is PG Aaron Craft (9.2 PPG, 4.9 APG, 2.4 SPG), but he has to start playing better if Ohio State is going to start performing like the team that started the season 15-0. PG Shannon Scott (7.5 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 3.7 APG) and PF Sam Thompson (7.3 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 43% FG) both have shown the potential in their careers to be big-time players, but have not shown the consistency needed to take their games to the next level.
Like Ohio State, Wisconsin had everything going the right way for them during their 16-0 start. This Badgers team has as much if not the most offensive talent that any Bo Ryan team has had at Wisconsin, scoring 74.3 PPG on 45.9% FG and 37.3% threes. A big problem for the Badgers this season has been the team’s inability to rebound the basketball, grabbing only 33.9 RPG (242nd in nation). But Wisconsin still holds opponents to 63.5 PPG (36th in nation) on 42.5% FG (32.3% threes) and commits the fewest turnovers in Division I with 8.3 per game. SF Sam Dekker (14.0 PPG, 48% FG, 6.4 RPG) and SG Ben Brust (13.2 PPG, 40% threes, 4.8 RPG) are the leaders of the team with great scoring ability. Seven-foot C Frank Kaminsky (13.1 PPG, 43% threes, 6.0 RPG) also has the ability to step out and the three-point shot. PG Traveon Jackson (11.0 PPG, 4.0 APG, 3.9 RPG) and PG Josh Gasser (8.8 PPG, 40% threes, 3.8 RPG) are two more players capable of putting up big numbers on any given night. Both of these teams are in a desperate need for a victory in a wide-open Big Ten conference.