The University of Michigan is basically a phrase banned from being uttered in Columbus, Ohio. There is no doubt that the maize and blue are the most-hated rivals of Ohio State, no matter the sport. However, Buckeyes fans might have to inch the University of Wisconsin a little closer to Michigan on the ladder of vitriol if the Badgers can beat OSU on Saturday in Madison.
Why? Back on Oct. 16, also in Madison, the Wisconsin football team stunned top-ranked and unbeaten OSU. That loss was the only one of the season for the Buckeyes and cost them a shot at the national title and, as it turned out, even the Rose Bowl. Of course, the basketball Buckeyes are atop both polls and are the nation’s lone unbeaten. So Saturday could provide quite a double whammy for Badgers fans to brag about.
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How the Teams Enter
No. 1 Ohio State (24-0, 11-0 Big Ten) was expected to get a test on Sunday at Minnesota, but the Buckeyes handled a fairly good Gophers team, 82-69. Freshman stud big man Jared Sullinger had his 11th double-double of the season with 18 points and 13 rebounds. The 24-0 start is the second-best in school history and, naturally, is the longest winning streak in the country. The school record is 32 straight wins. Perhaps even more impressive is that it was OSU’s 13th straight road win and 12th straight Big Ten away victory.
No. 14 Wisconsin (18-5, 8-3) might have been caught looking ahead a bit on Wednesday as the Badgers were stretched to overtime at Iowa before winning 62-59 (it was an ugly 23-18 at halftime in favor of Iowa). That was UW’s third straight win and sixth in seven games.
Ohio State at Wisconsin Betting Storylines
Other than probably Cameron Indoor Stadium, Wisconsin’s Kohl Center is the toughest place to play in the nation. Ohio State hasn’t won there in 11 years, with Buckeyes \Coach Thad Matta going 0-for-5. Under Bo Ryan, the Badgers have won an incredible 75 of 81 home Big Ten games and are 13-0 overall there this season, winning by an average of 20 points. Overall they have won 34 of their past 35 there and have 11 total losses at the Kohl Center in Ryan’s 10 seasons.
However, Wisconsin doesn’t have a great history against top-ranked teams. The Badgers are just 1-18 all-time against the nation’s No. 1. Ironically, that lone win came over an unbeaten Ohio State team in 1962. Ryan’s teams have hosted the No. 1 team at the Kohl Center just once in his 10 seasons, a 75-65 loss to Illinois in 2005. This will be just the sixth home game ever for UW against a No. 1, with the Badgers going 1-4 in the previous five. However, Wisconsin is 24-7 against ranked foes under Ryan at the Kohl Center and has won nine straight.
Plus, Wisconsin has two all-Big Ten-caliber players in Jon Leuer and Jordan Taylor, with the latter emerging as the Big Ten’s top point guard. During conference play, Taylor (20.3) and Leuer (18.9) have combined to average a Big Ten-best 39.2 points per game. Leuer’s 7.4 rebounds per game ranks fifth in the conference. Taylor is second in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.89). The Badgers simply don’t turn the ball over, ranking No. 1 in the country with 7.8 turnovers a game. UW is second in the country in defense, allowing 56.1 ppg.
Expect a low-scoring game here considering OSU is No. 6 in the nation in scoring defense at 57.8 points per game. Plus, OSU is second nationally in turnover margin, so whoever wins that battle should emerge as the winner. If the Badgers try to collapse on Sullinger, he will kick it out to Jon Diebler, whose 47.7 percent shooting from three-point range is No. 3 in the country. Diebler is five made three-pointers away from breaking the Big Ten record of 332 (Michigan’s Louis Bullock actually made 339 but that was vacated because of UM rules violations during the time of Bullock’s career).
OSU has won two of the past three meetings overall. When both teams are ranked in the series, Ohio State has a 4-1 record.
Ohio State at Wisconsin Betting Odds and Trends
Wisconsin opened as a one-point favorite with the total at 122.5, according to current college basketball odds. OSU is 8-0 on the road and 5-3 ATS. UW is 13-0 at home and 7-2 ATS.
Wisconsin has covered nine of its past 12 at home vs. teams with a winning record.
Here’s an ‘under’ alert: The ‘under’ is 7-0 in both OSU’s and Wisconsin’s past seven vs. teams with a winning record and in the past seven in this series.
College Basketball Picks: Ohio State at Wisconsin Predictions
I don’t think there’s any way that OSU makes it through a Big Ten regular season unbeaten, and this is where the Buckeyes fall. Leuer can basically neutralize Sullinger – I mean just in total production not stopping him – and thus Taylor will be the difference. That total is awfully low, but this looks like a game in the high 50s and two of OSU’s past three games have been ‘under’ that number. Take the ‘under’.
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