Good news, bad news: Buckeyes lose at Wisconsin 71-49
So the Wisconsin Badgers pounded the ever living daylights out of the Buckeyes on Sunday while reminding them why The Kohl Center is such a difficult place to play. Now the Bucks are 18-7 and with five difficult games left in the regular season Thad Matta’s team is still trying to figure out how to reach the 20-win plateau before the Big Ten Tournament in Chicago.
Andy Manis/Associated Press
- While there isn’t a lot of good to speak of with how the Buckeyes played, I will point out Aaron Craft’s leadership. Craft didn’t play his greatest game by any stretch. He was 2-for-9 from the field with one of the ugliest alligator-armed air balls you will ever see. But he was the only guy on the court being vocal. When the Bucks were desperate to keep the game close in the first hand he was the one trying to fire his team up. He kept getting his team to huddle. He kept applauding his teammates after a good play to keep their heads up. The great thing about Craft is that he does this whether the team is winning or losing. You know you’re getting a leader every time he steps on the floor. And I’d be willing to bet that Craft is going to do what he can to get his teammates’ minds right before the Minnesota game.
- There are still five games left. This is college basketball. You shouldn’t expect perfection for an entire season. Kansas went on a three game losing streak a couple weeks ago. Michigan lost three out of four. And those two teams are way more talented than Ohio State. So why shouldn’t we expect a rough patch for the Buckeyes. They’ve showed that they can be competitive with this roster and there’s no reason to believe that they aren’t capable of beating Minnesota and Michigan State on their home floor.
- Ohio State wasn’t ready to play. An average performance in a win over Northwestern a few days earlier translated into an awful effort at Wisconsin. The Buckeyes already showed us they can beat Wisconsin, so there’s no excuse for getting blasted by 22 points. The defensive intensity was non-existent. Wisconsin is going to space out a defense so it can get room for its shooters and cutters. If you aren’t fighting to get around screens and communicating to help each other out you will get burned. The Badgers got hot and made a ton of threes to get their lead but the Buckeyes weren’t doing much to contest those shots. Wisconsin even missed a fair amount of wide-open looks so it could’ve been worse.
- Amir Williams continues to look completely lost. Ineffective isn’t even a fair word to describe William’s play. Too many times he’s out of position. He loses his man too easily. He’s not making sure he always puts a body on someone when he hits the glass. And he’s in constant foul trouble. The 10 minute stretch at Michigan when he showed a glimpse of brilliance was just that – a rogue 10 minute stretch.
- 1-7 against ranked teams. It’s one thing to not really show up like for road games at Illinois (which I thought wouldn’t happen again, I was wrong) and at Wisconsin, but the record shows that this team lacks that finishing punch. We can point to strong efforts against Duke, Kansas, Michigan State, at Michigan but sooner or later you have to prove you can get a W. Being competitive isn’t going to get you to the next round in tournament play.
The season isn’t over and this Buckeye team has been known to surprise us (in both good and bad ways) so I expect to see some more winning. But my opinion has not changed that this team would do very well to make a Sweet 16 appearance this year. There might not be enough talent to even run off two straight in the big dance. But there definitely isn’t enough to go beyond that.