The Big Ten's leading scorer averages 20 points per game. If the Badgers are going to earn a second-straight victory in Columbus, they need to keep Deshaun Thomas in check.
Throughout the course of the season, the Wisconsin basketball team has made great strides on the defensive side of the ball. In particular, the Badgers defense in the frontcourt as of late has been phenomenal, with great performances against Indiana, Michigan State and Minnesota in the low post. Despite winning some of these battles, UW has also shown at times the inability to shutdown an opponent's premier player.
In the second game of the season against Florida -- a star-studded team I may add -- Gators forward Erik Murphy went off for 24 points on perfect 10-10 shooting from the field.
Just three games later, the Badgers were severely exposed in the paint when Creighton's Doug McDermott notched a 30-point performance against UW on a neutral court.
This all leads up to Tuesday night's contest in Columbus, where the Badgers will meet Deshaun Thomas and the Buckeyes. Thomas averages 20 point per game and six and half boards too. The junior forward from Fort Wayne, Indiana stands at 6-7, 225 pounds and is incredibly athletic. He does everything for the Ohio State. Thomas possess great post moves, a sweet stroke from beyond the perimeter (42% 3pt) and can score at will on almost any given possession.
It'd make sense to predict Thomas as the next UW competition to go off offensively, but the Buckeyes have struggled outside of Thomas. Point guard Aaron Craft is not known for his offensive output and although he still averages nearly nine points per game, Ohio State is still searching for more reliable options. Guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. is a solid contributor at 10 points per game -- second best on the team -- but there's still a huge dropoff in numbers after Thomas.
When I say "don't let Deshaun Thomas be Deshaun Thomas," I'm saying the Badgers need to go to whatever lengths possible to keep Thomas in check. They need to force his teammates to make the big plays to win the game. Thomas is special for a reason. No matter what most teams throw at him, he usually still finds a way to score. Nonetheless, it's imperative for Wisconsin to keep up its defensive play in the frontcourt in an attempt to take Thomas out of his comfort zone.
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