My preseason pick for Big 10 champs took one step closer to that title with a huge 72-69 win over the Ohio State Buckeyes last night. That team is, of course, the Wisconsin Badgers, an experienced squad that has flown below the radar for much of the season. But after making a massive second-half run and then holding on in the final seconds against the preseason Big 10 favorite, there may finally be some national media attention heading Madison’s way.
When I worked in Belmont, I had a co-worker who was a Wisconsin grad and a huge fan of their coach, Bo Ryan. I saw a couple of games last season and was impressed. But last night I saw a perfect display of what made him so excited about having Ryan at the head of the bench. The Badgers moved the ball around with speed and precision, oftentimes finding open layups in the half-court set with only a dribble or two. Of course, as I watched I couldn’t help but think about great the Horns would look with a crsip offense instead of constant ball screens on the perimeter. But I digress.
The game also allowed me my first collegiate look at Greg Oden. His offensive performance left a lot to be desired, but who’s to say how much of that was a result of his wrist injury? Of course, it doesn’t help that for the first twenty minutes the Buckeyes were jacking up threes faster than A.J. Abrams and Kevin Durant in the final seconds of the Tennessee game. But defensively, Oden is an absolute monster. His presence inside alters shots so easily and disrupts the offense, although Wisconsin’s ball movement and Oden’s foul trouble essentially negated that for much of the second half.
Wicsonsin and Ohio State will meet again in Columbus on February 25th in a game I believe will be televised on CBS. If you missed last night’s great finish, be sure to tune in for the rematch.
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