Fortunately for Wisconsin and Ohio State, there are no ties in basketball because of one of the struggling teams is guaranteed a much-needed victory Thursday in Columbus, Ohio.
The Badgers (12-8, 4-6 Big Ten) have dropped three straight and six of seven. The Buckeyes (11-10, 3-7) have lost two in a row and seven of eight.
They’ve each reached the halfway point of the conference schedule.
“Obviously, we’re in a little dip right now but we’re constantly working, constantly having conversations about how we can get better,” Ohio State guard Brice Sensabaugh said. “We’re in a tough spot, but day by day we’re trending in the right direction, especially in practice.”
Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said his team’s turnaround must begin at the defensive end of the floor. It has to, with an offense that ranks 13th of 14 Big Ten teams in points per game (65.1).
“The No. 1 thing is we’ve got to get back to being who we are,” he said. “Getting the defensive mindset back to where we have been is the first step.”
As for the offense, Gard said the biggest disappointment has been at the free-throw line where the Badgers are 11th in the conference in free throw percentage (66.3), 13th in makes (181) and 13th in attempts (273).
Forward Tyler Wahl is an example of the Badgers’ free throw shooting struggles. He shot 70.9 percent (39 of 55) from the line in Big Ten play last season compared to just 45.8 percent (11 of 24) so far this season.
“I’ve definitely hit a little lull,” he said. “But I feel like I’m getting back to where I need to be. I’ve got to get to the line. Volume will fix my problems. I’ve got to get to the line more often. … The whole thing about free throws is mental.”
The Buckeyes also continue the search for answers.
“Obviously, we’re disappointed with the first round of Big Ten games,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said. “There have been some moments where we’ve had an opportunity to capitalize, and we just haven’t been able to do that.”
— Field Level Media