Greg Bartram-US PRESSWIRE
The battle for fourth place in the Big Ten standings is on the line as Wisconsin travels to face Ohio State on Tuesday.
Just because the Wisconsin Badgers aren't ranked doesn't mean it will be easy for the No. 11 Ohio State Buckeyes on Tuesday.
One of the Big Ten's most heated rivalries of late features two teams tied for fourth in the conference standings. The Buckeyes have won four of their last five, including an upset over the then-No. 2 Michigan Wolverines.
Wisconsin, meanwhile, rebounded from consecutive losses to the Iowa Cyclones and Michican State Spartans with an ugly 45-44 win over the then-No. 12 Minnesota Gophers. It was the second consecutive game that the Badgers didn't eclipse 50 points.
The two teams will most likely see who can grind out a win, as both are defensive-minded squads. Wisconsin ranks 10th in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to Ken Pomeroy's ratings, and Ohio State comes in at No. 12. The Badgers' opponents average just 54.9 points, the Buckeyes' only 57.8 per game.
If Wisconsin hopes to win, they will need to stop the Big Ten's top scorer, Deshaun Thomas. The junior forward is shooting 47 percent from the field and averages 20 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.
He will match up against senior forward Jared Berggren. Berggren leads the Badgers with 12 points a game, and also averages 1.8 blocks per game. Berggren was the big hero for the Badgers the last time the two teams met. He scored the Badgers' five final points to beat the Buckeyes, 63-60, last February.
The question for the Badgers is whether they can score enough points against the Ohio State defense. Wisconsin is ranked 176th in the NCAA in scoring, at just 67.8 points per game. They have scored less than 60 points seven times this season, usually preferring to bully other teams into submission behind the frontcourt of Berggren and Ryan Evans.
At 15-4 overall, the Buckeyes' record masks that they have struggled against stronger competition this year. They are 1-4 against teams in the RPI top 50, while the Badgers are 3-4.
When: 7 p.m. ET
Where: Value City Arena, Columbus, Ohio