Ohio State dropped its fifth conference game of the year in a 63-60 loss to the Wisconsin Badgers Sunday evening, but the Buckeyes still have a chance to win a share of the Big Ten regular season championship if it wins out.The Buckeyes (11-5 in the Big Ten) are currently tied for second place with Michigan, and both teams are just one game back in the loss column from the Spartans. Michigan State had a strong grip on first place and could have locked up the conference championship last night -- but the Spartans fell on the road to a tough Indiana team. Michigan State’s loss gives the Buckeyes new life -- and if Ohio State can beat Northwestern on the road -- the Buckeyes will travel to East Lansing to battle Michigan State for a share of the conference title. The Wolverines could also claim a share of the title if they beat their remaining opponents (Illinois and Penn State), but that's only if Ohio State beats Northwestern and Michigan State.
Ohio State - Wisconsin Game RecapOhio State had a seemingly insurmountable nine point lead late in the second half against Wisconsin, but poor free throw shooting and mental lapses on defense doomed the Buckeyes in a 63-60 loss to the Badgers.It was senior day for William Buford, who scored 15 points on 4-11 shooting to go along with nine rebounds. Deshaun Thomas led the Buckeyes with 23 points while adding seven rebounds. Jared Sullinger had another puzzling performance, scoring just eight points and six rebounds in 33 minutes of action. A lack of team chemistry was a common theme from the Ohio State players after the game.“We weren’t together for the entire forty minutes,” Buford said. “Sometimes we were out doing our own thing. We didn’t get enough buckets. We just aren’t playing together. It’s very concerning leading up into March. We should be together by now.The start of the first half didn’t reflect well on either of the top-five defenses featured in the game. The Buckeyes came out hot with an incredible boost from Thomas, who hit his first five shots on his way to scoring 11 of Ohio State’s first 13 points. Buford didn’t take his first shot of the game until six and half minutes in, but he drilled a 15-foot jumper and a 3-pointer from the wing on consecutive possessions to put Ohio State up 18-14. Wisconsin matched Ohio State every step of the way, connecting on 8 of their first 12 shots from the field. After just nine minutes of play, Ohio State led the game 20-19 as both offenses were operating crisply. That’s when the defenses woke up. The Badgers went on to miss six of their next seven shots from the field and Ohio State committed turnovers on six of seven possessions during the same stretch. The Buckeyes were able to scrape together a 5 point lead on two occasions late in the first, but Wisconsin fought back both times and tied the game up at 29 going into halftime.Ohio State shot 55% from the field while holding Wisconsin to just 39% shooting in the first half. Thomas and Buford carried the load early, combining to score 23 of Ohio State’s 29 points (Sullinger had just four), but 10 first half turnovers prevented the Buckeyes from building a lead. The two teams went back and forth for much of the second half before Ohio State went on a 9-0 run. Ohio State’s nine unanswered put them up 50-42 with about eight minutes to go, but Wisconsin quickly responded with a 10-1 run of their own to retake the lead.The lead had changed 21 times when Aaron Craft took the free-throw line -- the Buckeyes up by 1 -- with just under a minute and a half to play. His first attempt ricocheted off the rim, and his second attempt bounced off and into the arms of a Wisconsin Badger down low. On the other end, Jordan Taylor connected on two free-throws to give the Badgers a one point lead. Sullinger got a rare low post bucket to put the Buckeyes back on top, but Wisconsin’s Jared Berggren nailed a dagger 3-pointer that gave the Badgers a lead it would never lose grip of in the 63-60 battle.--The Buckeyes will hit the road tonight, traveling to Evanston to take on the Northwestern Wildcats. The Buckeyes need a victory tonight for a chance to earn a share of the conference title in East Lansing Sunday, but Northwestern is looking for a signature victory to increase their chances for its first NCAA tournament birth in school history. The game tonight will provide great insight into whether the Buckeyes can piece things together for a tournament run.
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