This Sunday at 4:00pm Eastern Ohio State will host the Wisconsin Badgers in William Buford's final home game as a Buckeye. It's Senior Night for him, but a night for the team to continue building momentum heading into the postseason after a Tuesday night blowout of Ilinois at the Schott.
Ohio State knocked off the Badgers at their place earlier this month, and now look to sweep the two-game series as #15 Wisconsin comes in having won 8 of their last 11. We caught up with Andrew Coppens of the MadTown Badgers blog to get the perspective from the other side heading into Sunday's big match-up.
BHC: Is the match-up between Jordan Taylor and Aaron Craft the "one to watch" on Sunday?
Andy: Actually I think the matchup that means the most is inside as the Jared (not the galleria of jewelers) vs. Jared show is key. Last time your Jared ate ours up and frankly we need Bergs to step up a bit more. If we can keep Sullinger under 20 points this time and get him in some foul trouble we should be in decent shape.
BHC: The Badgers have now won 8 of their last 11 after a three-game slide around the New Year. How have you seen this team grow throughout the B1G schedule?
Andy: I’m not sure if you have seen much growth in this team honestly. It may sound simple but the formula for a Badgers victory is this: 1) Play hard-nosed defense. 2) Shoot the ball well from 3 point range. 3) Play transition defense. What has happened in ripping off 8 of 11 is that they’ve been really good at their formula and have been even better in the wins at stopping the other team from doing what they do best. Sorry I couldn’t give you a more hard hitting analysis, but it’s truly that simple.
BHC: Last year's split series between the Badgers and Buckeyes was full of story lines and drama. Do you think that's good for the growth of the rivalry, or stains it in some manner?
Andy: I think it was great for the rivalry, especially because in basketball we really don’t have that team we “hate”. There is more a sense of respect in the rivalry with Michigan State. So having a team that really gets the blood boiling isn’t all that bad, just don’t tell that to Jared Sullinger (allegedly of course).
BHC: Coming off a tough loss at Carver-Hawkeye, do you see the Badgers coming out Sunday with an axe to grind, or potentially tired and down from a tough loss and a quick turnaround?
Andy: I really don’t know what team we’re going to see. Lately it’s been a case of too little to late in the losses we’ve suffered and if we win it’s because we’re sharp from downtown early on. What I will say is that we’ve been a better road team than a home team in the B1G, so with that I would say this team comes out hungry and fighting from the start.
BHC: While the regular season champion is recognized as such, the B1G Tourney championship has become more of a crowned jewel achievement. Can you see Wisconsin putting it together and managing their way through to that title, and who do you as your toughest potential hurdle - Ohio State or Michigan State?
Andy: Even if we hang on for the 4th spot this team is just way, way to inconsistent to predict what will happen in the tournament. Are they capable of running to the title? Yes. But they are also capable of shooting 3-28 from beyond the arc and getting beat. But if you put me under torture there is no way we win and Michigan State is by far our biggest hurdle, we really haven’t shown we could play with them in either game.
Bonus Question #1: Prediction and why?
Andy: Ohio State wins a close one and it’s because we have nothing to counter the presence of Sullinger with.
Bonus Question #2: What are your expectations for the Badgers and who do you have in the B1G and NCAA tournaments?
Andy: I expect the Badgers to be a 2 & out NCAA tournament team. It’s been the trend lately under Bo and I just have zero confidence that this team is anything but mediocre at best. As far as who wins the tournaments I’m going with Michigan State in the B1G and give me North Carolina in the NCAA tournament at this point, but that could and probably will change based on matchups in the brackets.
Editor's Note: We want to thank Andy for taking the time to work with us this week. He's also taken our perspective on Sunday's match-up and published it over at MadTownBadgers.com if you want to go check that out, from our own Grant Edgell.
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