by Stix Lightfoot
Ohio State lost at home for the second time this year, coming at a most inopportune time. As the NCAA Tournament selection approaches, teams want to build momentum. Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, they continue to struggle late in the season, as they lost to Wisconsin 63-60 on Sunday, February 26th.
As the season nears its end, the Buckeyes are finding more and more holes in their game. Until Sunday, the Buckeyes struggled primarily on the offensive side of the floor. Against Wisconsin, it became clear that their typically hard-nosed defense had flaws as well. The wing players were late in their rotations, the big men did not get out to defend the outside shots, and the lack of shot blocking on the inside became glaring problems. These are very uncharacteristic of a team that is ordinarily disciplined. The Buckeyes’ in-your-face zone defense had been a staple all year, even when the offense struggled. After the Badgers were able to dissect it, the Buckeyes were left with more questions to answer.
Once again Jared Sullinger struggled to find a rhythm, finishing with only eight points. The sophomore has been having problems the past few weeks, averaging just 10 points over the last three games. Senior guard Jordan Taylor led the Badgers with 19 points, five rebounds, and four assists. Wisconsin also got a huge lift from center Jared Berggren, who added 18 points, including three 3-pointers.
The Buckeyes have lost three of their last five games, making the argument for a number one seed very difficult. With two tough games still to come against Michigan State and Northwestern, along with the Big Ten Tournament, Ohio State could easily find itself picking up another loss. If that happens, it could mean a drop as low as a three or four seed in the tournament.