The Wisconsin Badgers knocked off Ohio State in Madison yesterday, ending the Buckeyes’ perfect season. To the chagrin of Buckeye Nation, Wisconsin joins the ranks of the handful of teams that have, in the same academic year, beaten the same school when it was ranked number one in football and basketball.
The game was every bit as exciting as advertised, with great swings and crucial plays. Wisconsin went ahead in the early minutes, but Ohio State’s defense clamped down. The Buckeyes slowly ground their way back and finally ended the first half with their first lead of the game. The second half was played at a faster pace and was a game of runs. Ohio State put on a clinic in the first few minutes and went ahead by 15, but then it was Wisconsin’s turn. The Badgers — led by stud point guard Jordan Taylor — seemed to make every shot they put up and erased the Buckeyes’ lead and pulled ahead in a barrage of three-pointers. To their credit, the Buckeyes refused to give up, and the game came down to whether a red-haired Badger could make a three-pointer to put the Buckeyes away. He did, and Wisconsin won.
I give credit to the Badgers because they didn’t quit. I give credit to the Buckeyes for that same reason. There will be games where your opponent seems to make every shot while your efforts rim out. The important thing is to keep fighting, and the Buckeyes did so until the end. They also made their free throws in a hostile environment, which is encouraging. (Speaking of hostile environments, Wisconsin would be well-served by addressing the crass chants of its students, which I think give a fine University a bit of a black eye.)
Good teams will use this kind of loss as a building block and a motivator. I hope that is what the Buckeyes will do. With their 24-game winning streak ended, they will look to start a new streak on Tuesday against Michigan State.