Badgers Basketball Preview: Ohio State edition

Where: Madison Wis.; Kohl Center
When: Thursday, Jan. 12; 6pm CT
Channel: ESPN2
Spread: Wisconsin -11
All-Time Series: Ohio State leads 86-69
Last Meeting: UW won, 79-68, on Feb. 4, 2016 (in Madison, Wis.)


Projected Starting Lineups

Ohio State Buckeyes (10-6, 0-3)

G Kam Williams — Jr. 6-2, 185 (10.3 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 0.6 apg)
G JaQuan Lyle — So. 6-5, 210 (11.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 5.6 apg)
F Jae’Sean Tate — Jr. 6-4, 230 (14.5 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 1.8 apg)
F Marc Loving — Sr. 6-8, 220 (11.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.9 apg)
C Micah Potter — Fr. 6-9, 240 (4.3 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 0.2 apg)

No. 13 Wisconsin Badgers (13-3, 2-1)

G Bronson Koenig- Sr. 6-3, 190 (14.0 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 1.9 apg)
G Zak Showalter- Sr. 6-3, 185 (8.4 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.1 apg)
F Nigel Hayes- Sr. 6-8, 240 (13.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 3.2 apg)
F Vitto Brown- Sr. 6-8, 235 (7.3 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 1.1 apg)
C Ethan Happ- So. 6-10, 232 (13.4 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 2.9 apg)

Biggest Matchup: Zak Showalter vs. JaQuan Lyle

MADISON, WI – DECEMBER 07: Zak Showalter #3 of the Wisconsin Badgers dives to the hoop with Geno Luzcando #1of the Idaho StateBengals defending during the first half at Kohl Center on January 02, 2016 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)

With Ethan Happ and Nigel Hayes dominating inside the arc for Wisconsin, things have been good outside the arc as well. However, when the Badgers have had to rely on the outside game to make the inside game work it hasn’t been pretty.

Such was the case the last time out, and perhaps no player’s performance was more indicative of what bad perimeter play does to this team than Zak Showalter’s day. He’ll be going up against a slick scorer in JaQuan Lyle, who likes to drive and shoot or dish. Showalter’s defensive effort has to be there to quiet any chances Ohio State has, but he also has to show up when the ball is in his hands around the arc too.

Showalter combined with Bronson Koenig to hit just 2 of 7 from deep against Purdue, with the team shooting just 2 of 14 from beyond the arc. He was also just 3-8 from the field in total, and simply put, when that happens, the Badgers are in some serious trouble.

Lyle isn’t necessarily known for his defense either, so it will be on Showalter to hit the shots he just simply couldn’t get to go down last time. Otherwise, look for the Badgers to be in some trouble.

3 Numbers to Know

— 51%. That is the shooting percentage for the Badger over the last 10 games. No doubt Wisconsin struggled on the road to Purdue (shooting just 39 percent from the field), but let’s not lose sight of the fact that this offense has been humming along rather nicely over a long stretch of games overall. Expect the Badgers to return to that kind of production as they head home to the Kohl Center.

— .565. That is Wisconsin’s winning percentage against Ohio State under Thad Matta. It also happens to be the best winning percentage of any team in the Big Ten in the Matta era at OSU. Wisconsin owns a 13-10 overall record in that time span, while Michigan State is next on the list at 14-11. UW is 6-2 over the last eight games in Madison, while the two teams are tied at 10-10 over the last 20 meetings, that’s how crazy the swing is between home and away contests.

— 60. Wisconsin has held the Buckeyes to 60 point or less in seven of the last eight meetings. The Badgers are allowing Ohio State to average just 56.4 points per game in that same stretch. Couple that with the fact that UW has allowed just 59.8 points per game to opponents on the year and it could be a long and tough night for the Buckeyes in the Kohl Center.



Wisconsin 78, Ohio State 64

Sadly, this may be a game where the Wisconsin Badgers don’t live up defensively. By that I mean they won’t hold another opponent to their season low for points. Although they will get close, as the Buckeyes’ season-low is 61 points. I just believe UW’s defense is going to allow a few thing to happen on the perimeter that will put OSU over the top.

That said, this isn’t the same old Ohio State team that has given Wisconsin plenty of trouble over the years. Rather, this is a team that has lost its rudder with the loss of Keita Bates-Diop to a season-ending injury.

Wisconsin does well when it can establish Ethan Happ down low and get good play on the perimeter. That has happened in spades inside the Kohl Center, with the Badgers averaging a crazy 80.3 points per game at home. That’s a full 10 points better than when on the road. Expecting anything other than a win at the KC would just be ridiculous.