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Badger Bits: This year's showdown with OSU just as important as last year's

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Just as it was last season, Wisconsin’s home showdown with Ohio State is by far its most hyped game of the season. For the second year in a row, both teams come into the game with impressive winning streaks (UW: six, OSU: 4), and once again, the Buckeyes undoubtedly have more talent. But in the confines of the Kohl Center, they’ll hardly be favorites.

This season though, each team is a bit less highly regarded than it was last season. The Buckeyes, currently the No. 3 team in the nation, were undefeated in last year’s showdown and the Badgers, currently ranked No. 20, were a top 15 unit. Does that mean this game is less meaningful? Hardly.

I think this year’s game could be even bigger should the Badgers prevail. Last season, the Buckeyes had a firm grasp on the Big Ten even after they fell at the Kohl Center. But this season, a Wisconsin victory plus a Michigan loss at Michigan State Sunday would put the Badgers in sole possession of first place in the Big Ten, a pretty remarkable possibility considering the Badgers were 1-3 in conference play less than a month.

Things look even better when you look at each team’s remaining schedule. The Badgers have to travel to Columbus in a few weeks (which will be difficult matchup regardless Saturday’s results), but other than that, their only other road test will come against a suddenly sputtering Michigan State team Feb. 16. Conversely, Ohio State still has to play the Spartans twice and travel to Ann Arbor. It’s not difficult to imagine the Buckeyes dropping two of those games.

There’s still a lot of basketball to be played, but owning first place in the Big Ten with less than a month of regular season to be played is neither something that was possible last season nor was it something that looked possible just three weeks ago.

Hoops Links

The Badgers don't seem to be treating Saturday's game differently than any other.

Ken Pomeroy's statistics indicate Saturday's game is a matchup between top-five teams.

Scoring against one of the nation's top ranked defenses won't be easy.

For the second year in a row, Jordan Taylor is a Bob Cousy Award finalist.

I honestly believe there's no better way to quickly familiarize yourself with Wisconsin's next opponent than by reading Q&As like this one between our own Phil Mitten and Chris Lauderback from Eleven Warriors.

Ben Brust is feeling "100%"after nearly being held out of Tuesday's game due to illness

Football Links

Bret Bielema isn't happy with Urban Meyer and his recruiting practices.

Adam Rittenberg had an interesting discussion with Bielema about his recruiting class. He seems pretty okay with the way things played out, all things considered.

Dave Heller talked to's Josh Helmholdt about the class.