Pregame Glance: Wisconsin

Written February 3rd, 2012 by Eric

The Buckeyes are looking for their 20th win of the season in a game that Jared Sullinger has very likely been eagerly anticipating for an entire calendar year. Let us deal with the Wisconsin Badgers.

Deal with it Bucky. Just deal with it.

School: University of Wisconsin-Madison
Location: Madison, Wisconsin
Founded: 1848
Student Population: 42,099
School Type: Public
Division: NCAA
Conference: Big Ten Conference
Stadium: Kohl Center
Seating: 17,230
Built: 1998
Head Coach: Bo Ryan
Year: 11th


Wisconsin is a team that is not known for losing at home under head coach Bo Ryan. In his first 10 seasons at the helm the Badgers notched only 11 losses in the Kohl Center. That’s right folks, Bo Ryan was 152-11 (93.3%) all time in Madison before this season. Against the Big Ten, he was only a slightly less ridiculous 77-6 (92.8%).

Obviously, very few teams had ever beaten Wisconsin at home under Ryan – and Ohio State is not one of them.

Jordan Taylor doing bad things.

This season, however, did not start out particularly well for the Badgers in conference. After suffering a rare home loss to Marquette in early December, the Badgers were getting ready to settle in to a relatively easy opening slate of games at Nebraska and against Iowa. Nebraska, playing their first ever Big Ten game, fought heart and soul but just couldn’t put together enough to top the perennially difficult Badgers. Days later, and much to Wisconsin’s surprise, the Iowa Hawkeyes snuck up on them and stole their first victory in the Kohl Center against Bo Ryan.

It was a sign of things to come, as the Badgers dropped their next two against Michigan State at home, and Michigan on the road. Despite having only lost five total on the season, a three game losing skid to start the Big Ten season, and put the Badgers at 1-3 in conference, was a moment to panic.

But a big five point victory at Mackey Arena against the Boilermakers was all the Badgers needed to right the ship. They have now rattled off six straight including Illinois (67-63) and Penn State (52-46) on the road, and Indiana (57-50) at home.

If you add in this season Bo Ryan’s home numbers only drop to 160-12 (93.0%) and 80-8 (90.9%). He’s still dangerous in the Kohl Center, and the Badgers are riding a 3 game home winning streak at the moment with the Buckeyes coming to town. You can bet they want to keep that streak going for a while.

Leading the charge is one of the best known point guards in the league, senior Jordan Taylor (6-1, 195). Taylor is not haven’t quite as good a season as he put together last year where he shot 43.3% from the floor and 42.9% from beyond the arc. He’s making up for it with better rebounds, more steals, and fewer fouls with only a one minute reduction in playing time. It’s the kind of campaign that big name Big Ten point guards often put together in their final go-around.

Taking over for the departed Jon Leuer in the paint is junior forward/center Jared Berggren (6-10, 235). Berggren is the second leading scorer on the team averaging just over 10 points per game, which he couples with a respectable 5 rebounds and nearly 2 blocks per game. He’s not going to beat you by himself, but you do need to keep an eye on him or he’ll explode for 18 on you (see: Illinois).

The Wisconsin Badgers have a very serious weakness in the paint this year. They are particularly poor at getting to the foul line. Their starting frontcourt, Berggren and junior Forward Mike Bruesewitz (6-6, 222), average only 1.5 and 1.8 free throw attempts per game. Compare that to Jared Sullinger’s 5.6 attempts per game – which is actually down from last year’s 7.2. Wisconsin is apparently not attacking through the paint like they did last season, and is preferring to settle for longer range shots.

It should come as no surprise that most of those shots are coming from Taylor. Taylor is averaging 11.6 attempts from the floor per game, and that number has actually increased to 13.7 over the last three games. Considering the reduction in his field goal percentage, it’s likely that Wisconsin is seriously missing Leuer’s presence inside, and Taylor is struggling to find open looks that were once there last season. This is the exact opposite of Ohio State’s problem, where Sullinger is likely struggling for not having a group of serious deep threats outside.

Wisconsin GP MIN PPG RPG APG SPG BPG TPG FG% FT% 3P%
Jordan Taylor

23

35.7

14.1

4.2

4.3

1

0

1.4

0.391

0.728

0.317

Jared Berggren

23

26.7

10.5

5.1

0.7

1.1

1.6

1.3

0.463

0.735

0.355

Ryan Evans

23

29

9.8

6.7

1.6

0.9

1.2

1.3

0.434

0.712

0.25

Josh Gasser

23

33.2

7.7

4.5

1.9

0.8

0.1

1.3

0.47

0.731

0.491

Mike Bruesewitz

23

25.4

6.5

4.9

1.3

0.5

0.2

1.1

0.427

0.714

0.358

Ohio State GP MIN PPG RPG APG SPG BPG TPG FG% FT% 3P%
Jared Sullinger

20

27.9

17.1

9.1

1

1.5

0.9

1.7

0.588

0.759

0.421

William Buford

22

32.4

15

4.7

3.3

0.8

0.1

2.2

0.433

0.877

0.376

Deshaun Thomas

22

28.2

14.6

4.4

1

0.4

0.1

1.3

0.54

0.721

0.333

Aaron Craft

22

29.5

8.1

3

5

2.4

0.1

2

0.492

0.657

0.345

Lenzelle Smith Jr.

22

22.7

6.4

4.7

2.1

1.2

0.1

1.1

0.505

0.543

0.459

This is the second in a serious of significant challenges Ohio State will face over the next couple weeks. While they passed the last one with flying colors, the team has performed extremely well at home all season. Playing the Badgers on the road is a much sterner test of what this team can do. The Buckeyes are going to need some good production from not only Mr. Sullinger, but also DeShaun Thomas, William Buford, and Lenzelle Smith Jr. if they want to pull off their first win in the Kohl Center.

This had to make an appearance.

Considering how this team has fared on the road, I wouldn’t be surprised if they struggle badly out of the gate and put themselves into a bit of a hole going into the half. However, considering what happened last season, and considering they’ve had a bit of extra time to get ready for the game, it’s possible that they’ll be primed and ready to face this challenge.

The Buckeyes are seeking their 20th win of the season against the Badgers. A win would make this Thad’s 8th straight 20 win season at Ohio State. It would also mark his 12th overall 20 win season, including one at Butler and three at Xavier.

To add to everything, the recent pronouncement by Wisconsin head football coach Bret Bielema regarding what he believed were improprieties in Ohio State head football coach Urban Meyer’s recruiting tactics will substantially increase the meaning of this game. The Wisconsin student section should be as rowdy as ever for this one. The atmosphere should be as dangerously electric as it was last year when the Buckeyes rolled in with an undefeated record.

The Buckeyes will face off with the Badgers in the Kohl Center on Saturday, February 4th at 2:00 PM EST. You’ll be able to see that game on ESPN.

6 Comments

  1. KenNo Gravatar
    February 3rd, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Good preview, Eric, thanks. A road game at Kohl will continue to be a challenge, but I think Badgers can be had this year.

    I’ll make sure that I tune in to to watch tomorrow’s game ;-)

    As an additional programming note (stay with me on this), my wife gets off work early today, so this will be a “date” night where we do fun stuff. In anticipation, I bought some wine, including ‘Simply Naked’ and ‘Menage a Troi’. So, if I don’t make it to tomorrow’s live chat, I hope that you understand.

    [Reply]

    PaulNo Gravatar
    February 3rd, 2012 at 10:14 am

    Too much information.

    [Reply]

    KenNo Gravatar
    February 3rd, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    I disagree. The ‘TMI’ would be post facto.

    [Reply]

    EricNo Gravatar
    February 3rd, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    I certainly do! I hope you have a great time with your wife =)

    [Reply]

  2. JoeNo Gravatar
    February 3rd, 2012 at 11:37 pm

    Little known fact. Matta has won at Wisconsin just not as a Buckeye but as a Bulldog. Let’s hope tomorrow is his first as a Buckeye.

    [Reply]

    KenNo Gravatar
    February 4th, 2012 at 7:36 am

    Interesting tidbit, Joe, thanks. I see where Vegas has us at -1.5, so they agree this will be a tough one.

    [Reply]

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