Badgers looking for third conference tourney title
Updated On: Mar 17 2013 01:26:38 AM CDT
Second-seeded Ohio State goes after its third Big Ten tournament title in four seasons when it meets fourth-seeded Wisconsin in Sunday's contest in Chicago.
The No. 9 Buckeyes won the 2010 and 2011 crowns and advanced by knocking off Michigan State in Saturday's semifinals.
Ohio State has won seven consecutive games dating back to being routed 71-49 by the Badgers on Feb. 17.
No. 23 Wisconsin ousted top-seeded Indiana in the semifinals and has won six of its last eight games.
The Badgers held high-scoring Indiana to a season-low point total in a 68-56 victory.
Wisconsin isn't all that athletic compared to the Hoosiers and the Michigan squad it beat in the quarterfinals but figures out how to get the job done.
"Just means we have a bunch of guys that want to play and play hard," senior forward Mike Bruesewitz said. "Kind of how college basketball has gone this whole year."
The Buckeyes split two games with the Badgers in the regular season but are still smarting over the whipping they took in the second outing. "We've got to be ready from the tip-off against them because last game we weren't ready," Ohio State junior forward Deshaun Thomas said. "But now we've got to be ready and focused because we know Wisconsin is going to hold that ball and try to run the clock to the end."
TV: 2:30 p.m. CBS.
ABOUT OHIO STATE (25-7): Junior point guard Aaron Craft had an outstanding game against Michigan State with 20 points, a season-high nine assists and four steals. Craft doesn't typically look to score - the 20-point outing is just the third of his career - but was 9-of-13 shooting against the Spartans. "I think we have a lot of plays that we can execute that either get me open shots or I can help create for somebody else," Craft said. Craft has 17 assists in the first two games of the tourney as he has stepped up his typical high-level intensity even further. "He loves these types of games," coach Thad Matta said. "There's no question about it. He's big for us."
ABOUT WISCONSIN (22-10): Nobody averages even 12 points for the team-oriented Badgers and any one of six players can be the hero on any given night. Senior forward Ryan Evans earned that tag with 16 points, eight rebounds and four blocked shots against the Hoosiers but stellar team defense overshadowed his fine effort. Junior guard Ben Brust makes 3-pointers (75), senior center Jared Berggren blocks shots (68), sophomore guard Traevon Jackson runs the offense (93 assists) and Bruesewitz does a little bit of everything. Freshman forward Sam Dekker had seven of his 11 points in a key second-half sequence.
Three points to consider:
1. Ohio State averaged 53.5 points in the two meetings against the Badgers, more than 16 points less below its season average of 69.8.
2. The Badgers are 17-3 when holding opponents under 60 points this season.
3. The Buckeyes committed five turnovers in the win over Michigan State.
PREDICTION: Wisconsin 63, Ohio State 60
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