The Badgers men’s basketball team (6-2 Big Ten, 12-3 overall) returns to the court to take on the No. 15 Ohio State Buckeyes (5-4 Big Ten, 11-4 overall) for a Saturday afternoon matinee.
Ohio State comes to Madison on the heels of a devastating home loss against Matt Painter and the Purdue Boilermakers by a score of 67-65. Though the Buckeyes have managed to go 0-2 against Purdue this season, they boast some convincing wins; most recently, they took down Illinois by a score of 87-81 in Champaign.
Chris Holtmann’s squad has a few bad losses, sure, but they’re the No. 15 team in the nation for a reason. The Buckeyes boast three players that average double-digit points, and the production doesn’t stop with those players. Junior guard Duane Washington, Jr. leads the Buckeyes in scoring at just under 16 points per game on a relatively-inefficient 39% shooting. Sophomore forward E.J. Liddell and redshirt junior forward Justice Sueing average a few less points than Washington, but are significantly more efficient; Liddell averages 14 points per game on 50% shooting and Sueing averages 10.5 points per game on 48% shooting.
The main story may not be these scorers, however. According to CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein, redshirt senior point guard CJ Walker could return from a hand injury against the Badgers. Walker averages just 8.7 points per game, but leads the Buckeyes in minutes per game. Walker is the maestro of Holtmann’s offense, leading the Buckeyes in total assists (46) despite playing four fewer games than most of his teammates.
The Badgers are currently on a two-game winning streak thanks to a scrappy victory against Rutgers in Piscataway, N.J. and a double-digit win against Northwestern at home. But this is the highest level of competition that the Badgers have faced since getting clobbered in Ann Arbor by the Michigan Wolverines. Since that loss, the Badgers have replaced senior forward Nate Reuvers with sophomore Tyler Wahl in the starting lineup. Wahl has played well in his two starts and notched a career-high 14 points against Northwestern. Greg Gard and the Badgers are still waiting for Reuvers to return to form as the Badgers’ all-time leader in blocks. A few good plays against the Wildcats could be a catalyst for the star forward to get back on track.
The Badgers swept the Buckeyes last season, including a win in Columbus when the Buckeyes were ranked fifth in the nation. The second game, a 70-57 victory in Madison, saw then-Badger guard Brevin Pritzl rack up 19 points on 7/13 shooting.
The game will be broadcast on CBS at 3 p.m. Central Time. This is the Badgers’ last game before they head on the road to face the Maryland Terrapins, who upset the Badgers at home earlier this season.