Wisconsin Badgers at Ohio State Buckeyes: Slower pace favors the Badgers

A classic matchup of Big Ten rivals will take place in Columbus Thrusday night when the Wisconsin Badgers take on the Ohio State Buckeyes.  Both teams find themselves towards the bottom the Big Ten and both are desperate for a win 

Wisconsin enters on a three game losing streak, shockingly failing to cover the spread in their last ten games.  The decline of the Badgers began when star forward Tyler Wahl suffered an injury; losses to Northwestern and Maryland without Wahl showed that the Badgers have depth issues behind their starting lineup. Wahl returned to the lineup last Saturday versus Illinois but was only able to play 19 minutes in the loss.  To pull off the upset Wisconsin has to find a way to make some shots, as a team they are shooting just 42% from inside the arc, relying heavily on the three point shot. Ohio State defends the three well, but does have a tendency to give open looks in their losses.  The return of Wahl should force more double teams in the post opening up shots for Chucky Hepburn and company from the outside.

Ohio State will have the best player on the court in Brice Sensabaugh, he leads an offense that is 3rd in the Big Ten in scoring, averaging 76 ppg.  The Buckeyes have thrived in high scoring games, if they are allowed to run their offense at their pace they control the ball.  Wins over teams like Iowa, Cincinnati and Texas Tech were all games in the 80’s were they could run their offense without resistance.  Sensabaugh controls the offense, but he also has a steady post presence in Zed Key.  Key should be able to control the post against a Wisconsin team that is terrible on the glass.  

Ohio State has the superior offense but they will be forced into a grind it out affair with a Wisconsin team that is not going to allow Sensabaugh to control the pace.  The Badgers slow pace will keep this a low scoring affair. The Badgers are due for some positive regression. The return of a healthy Tyler Wahl will help the offense return to form.  Ohio State has statistically defended the three well but they do tend to allow open shots.  If Wisconsin hits a few shots it will open up the middle for Wahl and company to work inside.  This number is too high for a conference game with a fully healthy Badger team.  I am rollng with Wisconsin.

Pick: Wisconsin +7

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