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Wisconsin Basketball vs. Ohio State: Ked’s Keys to a Badgers Win



Wisconsin basketball; Badgers shooting guard Connor Essegian and head coach Greg Gard
Feb 4, 2024; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Greg Gard talks with his players during the second half against the Purdue Boilermakers at the Kohl Center. Mandatory Credit: Kayla Wolf-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin basketball needs a win. A team once ranked No. 6 in the AP Top 25 poll is now moving in the wrong direction after the worst two weeks imaginable for head coach Greg Gard. Four consecutive losses have moved the Badgers from a dark horse contender to get a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament to fighting for a top-four finish in the Big Ten.

Notably, three of UW’s recent four losses have come on the road. Could some home cooking fix the reeling Wisconsin Badgers basketball team?

Wisconsin Basketball Meets Another Abhorrent Three-Point Defense

Wisconsin basketball guard AJ Storr attempts a shot

Feb 10, 2024; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Wisconsin Badgers guard AJ Storr (2) drives for a shot against Rutgers Scarlet Knights guard Noah Fernandes (2) and forward Mawot Mag (3) during the first half at Jersey Mike’s Arena. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Perimeter defense has been a challenge for the Badgers this season. Wisconsin is allowing opponents to make 36.6% of shot attempts from beyond the arc. That ranks 326th in the country. Recently, UW allowed Rutgers to shoot 58.8% from deep – better than twice the Scarlet Knight’s season average.

That outburst, led by Rutgers’ Noah Fernandes, who made all five of his attempted three-pointers, encapsulated the Wisconsin basketball experience this season. UW consistently allows teams to shoot and make a high volume of threes. The Michigan Wolverines, who made 35% of their 20 attempts from range, are yet another example.

Can the Badgers Take Advantage of the Buckeyes?

Ohio State’s three-point defense is nothing to brag about, either. Opponents are making 36% of their three-point attempts against the Buckeyes. OSU ranks 309th in the country in three-point defense by shooting percentage allowed.

Wisconsin may have an edge here, as Ohio State’s perimeter defense seems to be trending in the wrong direction. When these two teams met in Columbus on January 10th, Wisconsin basketball connected on 31.8% of its shots from beyond the arc. Since then, the Buckeyes have allowed opponents to shoot 46.1% on threes.

Wisconsin basketball guard AJ Storr attempts a shot while being defended by Ohio State guard Jamison Battle

Jan 10, 2024; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Wisconsin Badgers guard AJ Storr (2) takes the ball to the basket as Ohio State Buckeyes forward Jamison Battle (10) and Ohio State Buckeyes center Felix Okpara (34) defend during the first half at Value City Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin and Ohio State each have middle-of-the-road three-point shooting offenses. Not to mention, the Badgers have struggled from deep of late. Sophomore guard AJ Storr is a combined 1-13 on his three-point attempts through UW’s last three games. Maybe Wisconsin basketball can find its groove from deep against this poor Buckeyes perimeter defense.

On the other hand, Wisconsin will be tasked with stopping Ohio State’s Jamison Battle. The senior guard who transferred to Columbus from the Minnesota Gophers is one of the best three-point shooters in the country, connecting on a ridiculous clip of 43.2% on the season and 45.5% in Big Ten play.

Wisconsin Basketball Needs to Contain Roddy Gayle Jr… Again

Roddy Gayle Jr. drives to the line while Wisconsin basketball guard Connor Essegian defends him

Jan 10, 2024; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes guard Roddy Gayle Jr. (1) dribbles past Wisconsin Badgers guard Connor Essegian (3) during the second half of the NCAA men’s basketball game at Value City Arena. Ohio State lost 71-60.

Ohio State is led by standout shooting guard Roddy Gayle Jr. In their previous matchup, the Badgers held the sophomore to his 2nd worst performance by offensive rating this season, according to KenPom.

Gayle is excellent with the ball in his hand headed toward the hoop. Beyond his shot making ability, his propensity at getting to the free throw line is perhaps his most valuable skill. One of the best players in the country at drawing fouls and getting to the line, he consistently cashes in on his opportunities at the line. His 96.1% free throw shooting in Big Ten play ranks third in conference.

Despite all his talent, Gayle has a propensity to turn the ball over at times. The Badgers forced him into three turnovers in Columbus. If the Wisconsin basketball defense can force more turnovers from Gayle than he gets free throws, they will be in great shape in this Big Ten matchup on Tuesday.

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Kedrick Stumbris covers Wisconsin football, basketball, hockey, and volleyball. He received his B.A. with economics and political science majors from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2018 and has had his work published on Bleacher Report and Verbal Commits.