Each week we will take an inside look at the pulse of College Basketball around the Big Ten and other schools around the Midwest. We will highlight certain trends, hot streaks, cold streaks, and injury updates. This week we will take an exclusive inside look at the Game of the Week between two Big Ten rivals; Wisconsin and Ohio State for Sunday, Feb. 17.
Game of the Week
No. 14 Ohio State at No. 20 Wisconsin – Sunday, February 17
(**All stats an analysis taken before both team’s games on Thursday night.)
The Badgers have won three straight games since losing at Ohio State on January 29th. They won at Indiana, at home against Iowa in double overtime, and at home against Michigan in overtime. The last game win was especially rewarding, as the Badgers’ Ben Brust sank a 40-foot heave as time expired to tie the game and send it into overtime – where Wisconsin won by four.
In the recent three-game winning streak Wisconsin has held opponents to 38.7 percent field goals and 22.2 percent from three point range. The Badgers haven’t been great offensively over the last three wins. They’ve made just 39.1 percent of their field goals. But they have been great at getting to the foul line. Wisconsin has shot twice as many free throws as its last three opponents (78-39) and they’ve made 52 of those attempts.
Ohio State has dropped back-to-back games against Michigan and Indiana – both of whom were ranked in the top-5 at the time of the loss. The Buckeyes are off of a bad home loss to Indiana in which the Hoosiers thoroughly dominated OSU on its home court. OSU is 5-4 SU away from home this season. That includes a 3-3 SU & ATS mark in Big Ten road games.
Ohio State held Wisconsin to just 36.5 percent shooting in the first matchup. Meanwhile, the Buckeyes were very efficient on offense, converting on 51.1 percent field goals. Wisconsin didn’t attempt a single free-throw in that game. OSU is 1-9 straight up & 4-6 ATS in its last 10 trips to Madison. The Buckeyes’ only straight up win in Madison over that span was a six-point victory last year.
Injury & Personnel Updates
Butler Bulldogs: Center Andrew Smith will miss Butler’s next two games (Butler hosts Charlotte on Wednesday and visits Fordham on Saturday). Smith has been ruled out for two games because of an abdominal injury that he hurt Saturday at George Washington. The 6-foot-11 senior is second in scoring (11.4 points) and rebounding (5.4) for the Bulldogs. Luckily for the Bulldogs, they are in first place in the Atlantic 10 and they should have the depth to overcome his absence.
Kentucky Wildcats: The worst injury news of the week came for the Wildcats. Starting center and the nation’s leader in blocked shots, Nerlens Noel, tore his ACL and will miss the remainder of the season. Noel led the team in blocks, rebounds, field goal percentage, and steals. He was viewed as many as the top pick in the 2013 NBA draft. He’ll be sorely missed by this Kentucky squad that was just starting to put all the pieces together on this young squad. Loyola-Chicago Ramblers: Leading scorer Ben Averkamp has sat the last two games with a concussion. The Ramblers failed to reach 60 points in either of those games (both losses) and they clearly miss their top scorer. Averkamp averages 15.3 points per game and is only one of two players to average double digits for Loyola-Chicago.
Northwestern Wildcats: The injury bug continues to hit Northwestern. Starting forward Jared Swopshire will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery. The transfer from Louisville was averaging 9.7 points per game and 6.7 rebounds per game. The bad news doesn’t end there. Center Alex Olah will miss Wednesday night’s game against Ohio State with a head injury. Northwestern is running awfully thin on its bench and can’t afford any more personnel losses.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish: Sophomore guard Pat Connaughton hasn’t been practicing due to a sprained ankle and remains questionable for Notre Dame’s next game Wednesday night. Connaughton averages 9.1 points per game, 4.7 rebounds per game, and 2.7 assists per game. Meanwhile, Scott Martin (7.9 points per game and 5.7 rebounds per game) continues to be out with recurring soreness in his surgically repaired knee since the Georgetown game on Jan. 21. There is still no timetable for his return.
Oklahoma Sooners: The Sooners just lost starting freshman guard Buddy Hield to a broken foot. He will be out for four-to-six weeks and could miss the remainder of the season altogether. The Sooners have to overcome the loss of their fourth leading scorer, second-leading assister, third-leading rebounder and leader in steals. Oklahoma has hit a recent hot streak, sparked by an upset victory over Kansas.
Tulsa Golden Hurricane: Starting guard James Woodard is dealing with an ankle injury and did not play Saturday against UTEP. He remains questionable to play on February 16th against Houston. Woodard is the Hurricane’s most complete player, averaging 12.2 points per game, 5.5 rebounds per game, and 2.1 assists per game. Reserve forward Zeldric King has missed three straight games after undergoing surgery on his foot. The freshman averages just 3.8 points per game and 2.3 rebounds per game.
Ball State Cardinals: Junior guard Jesse Berry is dealing with a concussion and will miss Wednesday night’s contest at Northern Illinois. Berry is 2nd on the team with12.4 points per game and 2.7 assists per game. Ball State has dropped seven of its last nine games overall and is just 3-6 ATS over that span. Losing one of its top scorers won’t help the Cardinals.