Ohio State vs. Wisconsin
When: 5:01 p.m. today
Where: Kohl Center; Madison, Wis.
Radio: OSU-IMG Sports Network (63 stations), Sirius 135/XM 195, WBNS-AM (1460)
Records: Ohio State 5-3; Wisconsin 3-4
G C.J. Jackson, 6-1, Jr., 13.1
G Musa Jallow, 6-5, Fr., 5.8
F Jae’Sean Tate, 6-4, Sr., 12.9
F Keita Bates-Diop, 6-7, Jr., 17.4
C Kaleb Wesson, 6-9, Fr., 11.1
Key reserves: G Kam Williams, 6-2, Sr., 5.9; G Andrew Dakich, 6-2, Gr., 2.9; C Micah Potter, 6-9, So., 6.2; F Andre Wesson, 6-6, So., 2.1; F Kyle Young, 6-8, Fr., 1.7
G D’Mitrik Trice, 6-0, So, 10.4
G Brad Davidson, 6-3, Fr., 10.9
F Khalil Iverson, 6-5, Jr., 7.1
F Aleem Ford, 6-8, Fr., 4.6
F Ethan Happ, 6-10, Jr., 17.6
Key reserves: G Brevin Pritzl, 6-3, Jr., 7.9; F Andy Van Vliet, 7-0, Jr., 6.0; G Kobe King, 6-4, Fr., 4.6
This is the official Big Ten debut for Chris Holtmann after having spent the last four seasons with Butler in the Big East. Before the Buckeyes left for Wisconsin, I caught up with him for his thoughts on getting underway.
“First of all, a lot of really good players and a lot of really good coaches (in the Big Ten),” he told The Dispatch. “That’s my initial thought. A great league for players, a really talented league and really well-coached teams. In a lot of ways, established, older teams that are used to winning and have a basketball tradition of winning. Those were my initial thoughts. Obviously this is unique to have two games (so early), but it’s not going to be unique moving forward.
“You have to switch your mind-set a little bit, but given the stretch we’ve been a part of here with six games versus high-major opponents in (11) days, you’re kind of in the mind-set. It’s just a little different because it’s league play.”
This is the second-earliest Big Ten opener in Ohio State history. The Buckeyes played Penn State on Nov. 20, 1998, because the teams could not find a suitable date during the traditional conference schedule.
The Buckeyes and Badgers are playing so early because of the compressed conference schedule brought on by playing the Big Ten tournament a week earlier than usual in order to hold it inside Madison Square Garden in New York. This is going to become commonplace when the league moves to a 20-game conference schedule next season.
The Badgers are replacing four starters from last year’s team, returning just Ethan Happ, and have played a challenging schedule with four games against ranked opponents. They’ve lost all of them, but Holtmann isn’t concerned with their record.
“It’s an incredible program,” he said. “Their level of consistency is maybe unmatched in a lot of leagues with their level of top-three, top-four finishes. It’s unbelievable. I think they’re a really quality team. I think you’re going to see this team make a real run at a postseason berth. They’ve obviously got Happ, who is one of the best players in the country who everybody knows about, but they’ve got some really good players around him, too. They’ve played maybe the hardest schedule in the country. I think it’s too early to determine anything based on records. I just think they’re a quality team.”
*Pending Friday’s practice at Ohio State, Holtmann said the plan is to get Micah Potter into today’s game.
“Micah’s doing well,” he said. “I would expect us to be able to play him. Now we didn’t practice (Thursday) but I’m planning on playing Micah unless it looks today like he just is really favoring it. He wants to play, I know. I’ve held him out as a precaution as much as anything, and based on how he’s been moving in practice, but I would anticipate having him. We certainly need him back in the lineup, there’s no question.”
Potter injured his ankle during the second half of a Nov. 19 home game against Northeastern. The injury was initially described as a sprain, but it has lingered longer than hoped and required some further testing. Potter missed the opening game of the PK80 Invitational in Portland, Oregon, against Gonzaga, then played six minutes in a win against Sanford and four minutes in a loss to Butler. He dressed but didn’t play at home against Clemson on Wednesday.
“He’s not at full strength,” Holtmann said. “Those ankles take a little while. We’re going to give him a shot and see how he does on it.”
*Ohio State is tied for 262nd nationally with an average of 15.0 turnovers per game.
*Holtmann is looking to become the first Ohio State coach to win his conference coaching debut in nearly 30 years and the only to do so on the road. The last to win an opener was Randy Ayers, who beat Indiana, 69-67, at home Jan. 4, 1990. The Buckeyes finished that season 17-13 overall, 10-8 in the Big Ten.
Here’s how others have fared since Ohio State joined the Big Ten:
-On Jan. 5, 2005, Thad Matta lost his Big Ten debut, 84-65, at No. 1 Illinois. Ohio State finished the year 20-12 overall, 8-8 in the Big Ten.
-On Jan. 3, 1998, Jim O’Brien lost his Big Ten debut, 64-59, to Wisconsin. Ohio State finished the year 8-22 overall, 1-15 in the Big Ten.
-On Jan. 4, 1987, Gary Williams lost his Big Ten debut, 92-80, to No. 6 Indiana. Ohio State finished the year 20-13 overall, 9-9 in the Big Ten.
-On Jan. 6, 1977, Eldon Miller lost his Big Ten debut, 89-72, to Illinois. Ohio State finished the year 9-18 overall, 4-14 in the Big Ten.
-On Jan. 3, 1959, Fred Taylor lost his Big Ten debut, 81-80, at Illinois. Ohio State finished the year 11-11 overall, 7-7 in the Big Ten.
-On Jan. 6, 1951, Floyd Stahl lost his Big Ten debut, 77-62, to No. 6 Indiana. Ohio State finished the year 6-16 overall, 3-11 in the Big Ten.
-On Jan. 4, 1947, William Dye won his Big Ten debut, 43-41, against Minnesota. Ohio State finished the year 7-13 overall, 5-7 in the Big Ten.
-On Jan. 8, 1923, Harold Olsen lost his Big Ten debut, 36-31, to Illinois. Ohio State finished the year 4-11 overall, 1-11 in the Big Ten.
*After the Clemson game, Jackson now leads the Buckeyes in individual plus-minus at plus-78. He’s followed by Bates-Diop at plus-75 and Tate at plus-73. Against the Tigers, Williams was a team-worst minus-15.
What does KenPom say?
According to the advanced statistics of KenPom.com, Ohio State has a 19 percent chance to win today’s game. After dropping six spots to No. 75 in the national rankings after the Clemson loss, Ohio State is projected to lose to Wisconsin by a score of 72-63. The Badgers are ranked No. 32 in the country.
Ohio State's recent struggles haven't been helped by a lack of practice time. Today's Dispatch story: click here.
Catch up on just what happened in the loss to Clemson on Wednesday night with the postgame blog.
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