Chicago, IL (Sports Network) - Going in search of their league-leading fifth
Big Ten Conference Tournament title, the Ohio State Buckeyes challenge the
Wisconsin Badgers in the championship game of the 16th annual event on Sunday
afternoon at United Center.
Wisconsin, the No. 4 seed in the tournament, earned its way into this final
bout by taking out fifth-seeded Michigan in the quarterfinals (68-59), and
then No. 1 seed Indiana in Saturday's semifinal round (68-56). The Badgers are
seeking their third Big Ten Tournament title and their first since 2008 when
they defeated Illinois in a 61-48 final. UW's other crown was won in 2004
when it also knocked off the Fighting Illini, 70-53. Overall, this is the
fifth Big Ten championship game appearance for the Badgers.
Ohio State, which owns the No. 2 seed in this event, has been the most
successful team in Big Ten Tournament history. logging a 25-11 record,
appearing in eight championship games, and winning four crowns. The Buckeyes
have reached the finale of this event in each of the last four years now, and
they won back-to-back titles in 2010-11. Their other two trophies were earned
in 2007 and 2002. OSU's track to today's title tilt included a 71-50 rout of
10th-seeded Nebraska in the quarterfinals, and a 61-58 triumph over No. 3 seed
Michigan State in Saturday's semifinals.
Ohio State owns an 84-67 lead in the all-time series with Wisconsin, and the
teams split a pair of regular-season meetings this year with each winning on
its home court. The Buckeyes are 3-1 all-time against the Badgers on a neutral
floor, and their only other meeting in the Big Ten Tournament championship
game occurred in 2007, with OSU prevailing in a 66-49 final.
Ryan Evans scored 16 points leading four players in double figures, as
Wisconsin upended top-seeded Indiana in the semifinals of the Big Ten
Conference Tournament on Saturday. Ben Brust tallied a dozen points, while
Jared Berggren and Sam Dekker finished with 11 apiece for the Badgers, who
shot 51 percent from the field, draining 7-of-18 3-point attempts along the
way. An unsightly 15 turnovers could have proved costly if not for the fact
that coach Bo Ryan's club dialed up the defensive pressure once more, holding
the high-powered Hoosiers to 38.2 percent field goal efficiency while
outrebounding them, 35-30. Wisconsin's bench outscored Indiana's, 17-8. The
Badgers held another potent offensive team, Michigan, to 40.4 percent shooting
and only 59 points the day before.
Aaron Craft went 9-of-13 from the field in netting a game-high 20 points to
help push Ohio State past Michigan State in Saturday's other semifinal-round
matchup in Chicago. Craft was also busy getting his teammates involved in the
action by handing out nine assists. Big Ten scoring champ Deshaun Thomas added
16 points and seven rebounds for the Buckeyes, who won the game despite a
lackluster 42.1 percent shooting effort that saw only 7-of-24 3-point attempts
find the bottom of the net. OSU also struggled at the charity stripe (6-
of-12), but coach Thad Matta's squad committed only five turnovers and held
the Spartans to just 40.0 percent field goal efficiency. The Buckeyes
outscored MSU in bench points (15-6), points off turnovers (11-0) and out on
the break (11-0). Thomas and Sam Thompson were coming off identical 19-point
performances in the quarterfinal-round thrashing of Nebraska.
The Sports Network