Buckeyes To Take On Badgers
Ohio State women's basketball coach Jim Foster was as interested as anyone watching the first game of the 2005 Big Ten Tournament, partly because it would determine against whom his Buckeyes would play and partly because the two participants were a huge contrast in styles.
As it turned out, the game was a barnburner, with eighth-seed Wisconsin edging inspired ninth-seed Indiana 75-74 in double overtime Thursday afternoon in Conseco Fieldhouse. Indiana was playing its last game under coach Kathi Bennett, who announced earlier in the week that she was stepping down.
Wisconsin (12-15, 5-11) moves on to the second round for the first time in three years, and the previous two saw them eliminated by the Hoosiers. The Badgers will face Ohio State in the first game on Friday, which has a scheduled tip time of noon eastern.
Foster knew that his third-ranked and top-seeded Buckeyes would have a challenge, but it's one he's relishing.
"Wisconsin is a little more offensive minded, so they'll challenge us on that end," Foster said prior to the tournament. "They can definitely score in bunches, so we'll have to play well defensively."
The Badgers were led by freshmen Janese Banks, who had 23 points, and league rookie of the year Jolene Anderson, who netted 20 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.
"Those two form a pretty good nucleus, and anyone playing against them has their hands full," Foster said.
Where Wisconsin runs into trouble is inside, and there's no team that can exploit an inside weakness better than Ohio State (27-3, 14-2).
League player of the year Jessica Davenport could be salivating at the prospect of facing the Badgers. The sophomore had a season-high 36 points along with nine rebounds in the only meeting this year, an 86-67 victory in Madison on Jan. 27.
Wisconsin is an athletic team, but has trouble staying focused defensively. The Badgers give up a league-high 73.2 points and allow teams to hit at a 44.2 percent clip from the floor, 10th in the conference.
The Badgers stay in games because they lead the league in three-point field goals per game (5.69), but they also have trouble defending the arc, allowing teams to connect at a league-high 37.1 percent.
WHAT TO WATCH: Wisconsin's interior defense. The Badgers will be like every other team in the conference and will attempt to clamp down on Davenport. She's become savvy enough to recognize double-teams, so look for her to pass out of the post. That kind of attention to Davenport should open things up outside for Caity Matter, who led the Big Ten in three point shooting.
Wisconsin didn't have a senior on the floor for the final 20 minutes against Indiana, and it's hard to believe that freshmen won't feel the pressure the Big Ten tournament brings. While Anderson is a superb talent and worth the price of admission, and Banks isn't far behind, there just isn't enough on hand for the Badgers to hang with Ohio State. They'll have to be satisfied with their first tournament win since 1999 and leave it at that.
OHIO STATE 81, WISCONSIN 64