Coming off a 91-79 Badgers win over the Indiana Hoosiers Friday night, Wisconsin basketball hits the road tonight for a battle with their rival, the Minnesota Golden Gophers. They sit at 12-6 overall and 3-4 in the Big Ten. Minnesota is coming off a 76-66 loss to Michigan State Thursday.
Can the Badgers bounce back after the Penn State road loss and get another conference win away from Madison? Here are three keys to victory tonight.
Wisconsin Basketball Has to Defend the Paint
The Golden Gophers rank third in the Big Ten is field goal percentage at 48%. However, they only shoot just under 34% as a team from three? What does that mean? They are really good in the paint.
Minnesota will throw Dawson Garcia Josh Ola-Joseph, and Pharrel Payne at the Wisconsin basketball bigs. They saw all three a season ago. Garcia is the leading scorer at 17.7 points a game while Ola-Joseph is an athletic 6’7 forward. The Badgers struggled with Payne last year too. Expect Steven Crowl, Tyler Wahl, Carter Gilmore, and Nolan Winter to be challenged for the second straight game.
Wisconsin Basketball Should Emphasize Getting to the Line
Wisconsin basketball leads the Big Ten in free throw shooting at 77.7%. Minnesota is 12th at 67.4%. I’m sure they shoot it better at home, but this could be a game where free throws matter. The Badgers have been excellent at getting to the line this season.
I expect a battle in the post and that usually leads to more chances at the free throw line. If the Badgers can get two early fouls on Payne or Ola-Joseph, they can live at the line and make life in the paint much easier.
Take Care of the Basketball on the Road
For the third straight game, Wisconsin basketball did a poor job taking care of the basketball in the first half. Still, they are second in the Big Ten in turnovers coming into this game.
On the other hand, the Golden Gophers are one of the worst teams in the Big Ten taking care of the ball at just under 13 turnovers a game. The games have been tight in the first half because of this.
Wisconsin is clearly the better team in this match-up. This is a game where as long as they take care of the ball, get to the line, and play sound defense they should take care of business relatively easily.
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