Number One vs. Number Two

Remember that last weekend of the college football season when we saw No. 1 play No. 2 in Columbus to decide who would be the number one team in the country?

Well, we're now nearing the end of the college basketball season and it's deja vu all over again as Wisconsin (No. 1 AP, No.2 Coaches Poll) visits Columbus to take on Ohio State (No. 2 AP, No. 1 Coaches Poll).

While Wisconsin lost at Michigan State earlier this week, the winner of this game could still get the NCAA's number one overall seed for next month's tournament. How the team's fare in the Big Ten tournament will be another huge factor in determining who gets the number one seed.

The winner of Sunday's game, which will be on CBS at 3 PM Eastern, will undoubtedly receive a number one seed in the NCAA tourney, while the loser could still get a number one seed if they were to win the Big Ten tournament.

Both teams have strong resumes. Ohio State, with the Big Ten Freshman of the Year front-runner and possible number one overall pick in June's NBA draft, Greg Oden, has three losses — all on the road and all to teams currently ranked in the top five in Wisconsin, Florida, and North Carolina.

Wisconsin has National Player of the Year candidate Alando Tucker and a veteran group of juniors and seniors, and also just three losses. Wisconsin lost early in the season to Missouri State before running off 17 wins in a row, a streak that came to an end at then 25th-ranked Indiana. All three of the teams to beat the Badgers are expected to make the field of 65, with Michigan State cementing its tournament resume with Tuesday's win over Wisconsin.

Wisconsin (26-3) and Ohio State (25-3) face off Sunday in a game that will decide the Big Ten title and, just as important, who will earn that number one seed in the Midwest bracket of March's NCAA tournament.

Tucker leads the Badgers and is second in the Big Ten in scoring at 20.2 points per game. The Badgers are a deep team, with five players averaging at least 20 minutes per game and seven players that have played in every game. Wisconsin should have an advantage in the backcourt with its guards, Kammron Taylor and Michael Flowers. Taylor is the only other Badger averaging in double digits, with nearly 13 points per game.

The game will be won in the paint. Ohio State's strength is clearly with it's seven-foot frosh, Oden. After a wrist injury and subsequent slow start, Oden has rebounded, in more ways than one, and now leads the team in scoring and on the glass. He averages a near double-double, with 15.5 points per game and 9.7 rebounds. The Buckeyes are another deep team that has six players logging 20 minutes or more and four players averaging double-digit scoring. Daequan Cook (11.9 ppg), Ron Lewis (11.4), and Mike Conley (10) are the other three.

It will be up to Tucker, 6-foot-11 red-shirt junior Brian Butch, and Jason Chapell to slow down the Buckeye front court led by Oden.

The top two teams in the Big Ten and number one versus number two in the nation squaring off in Columbus on the final weekend of the regular season. That sounds familiar. While it is perceived that the Big Ten has had a down year in depth, Wisconsin and Ohio State are carrying the banner for the conference, and Sunday's game promises to be an instant classic. Let the madness begin.

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