One week from today, we will have the bracket of the 68 teams that have made the big dance. Wisconsin will try to make its case for one of the four 1-seeds in this final week, and it starts today when they face the Buckeyes of Ohio State at 4:30 ET. If a top team falls this week, and Wisconsin is able to put it on Ohio State today and then runs the table in the conference tournament, there is a good chance it could move up to one of those four spots. Wisconsin has already claimed the Big Ten regular season title after it beat Minnesota on Thursday. Ohio State, a projected 8-seed by ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, is coming off back-to-back road wins where it faced a second half deficit.
The Buckeyes look to continue their winning today to improve their seeding in the Big Ten tournament slated to start on Wednesday. If the Buckeyes can win today, they will lock up two byes in the tournament and not have to play until the quarterfinals on Friday. A loss could drop the Buckeyes down to 6th in the conference. A win against Frank Kaminsky and the
Badgers could not only improve their seeding in the Big Ten tournament, but also in the NCAA tournament. It would be a big boost of confidence for the Buckeyes heading into the postseason, also.
Why You Should Care
This is a game that features two teams that are capable of making runs in the tournament this year. I see Wisconsin as a serious Final Four contender. The Big Ten has been criticized as not having the basketball they are used to having this year, but this regular season finale between top 25 teams could show that these teams are primed to face the competition from outside the conference.
Match-up to Watch
The Ohio State big men are faced with their toughest test of the season when they face Kaminsky. Kaminsky, who looks like the leader for the Wooden Award, is averaging 18.4 PPG and 8.2 RPG. Kaminsky scored 31 of Wisconsin’s 68 points against Michigan State a week ago. In both the Badgers losses with Kaminsky on the floor this season, he has been held under his average. If Ohio State is able to guard Kaminsky successfully, the Buckeyes’ chances of winning increase greatly.
The key player I see in this game is the Ohio State freshman guard D’Angelo Russell. He is probably the second best freshman player in the country, only behind Duke’s Jahlil Okafor. When he is playing at a high level, this team tends to follow his lead. In Ohio State’s last game against Penn State, he was held relatively quiet as Penn State was trapping him off screens, and the Buckeyes trailed at the half. In the second half, he was able to heat up and hit back-to-back 3s to spring Ohio State in the lead for good. In the Buckeyes two losses on the Michigan road trip, he was held under his average in both games. The Buckeyes also rely on his passing that gets everyone involved in the offense. They will need him to excel in this game today if Ohio State wants a chance. Russell is averaging 19.1 PPG and shooting 43% from behind the arc.
I think this one will be close as the Buckeyes look to close out their regular season strong on senior night in Columbus, but in the end Kaminsky will get the best of Ohio State. I see the Badgers playing close in the first half and pulling away in the second. Wisconsin wins, 74-61.