The Matchup: Wisconsin (15-9, 7-4 B1G) vs. No. 2 Maryland (22-3, 10-2 B1G)
When: Sat. Feb 13; 5:30p.m. CT
Where: College Park, MD; Xfinity Center (17,950)
Radio: Badgers Sports Network
Last Meeting: Maryland won, 63-60; Madison, Wis. (1/9/15)
All-Time Series: Wisconsin leads 5-4
G Melo Trimble — So. 6-3, 185 (14.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 5.3 apg)
G Rasheed Sulaimon — Sr. 6-4, 190 (11.1 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 3.4 apg)
F Robert Carter Jr. — Jr. 6-9, 240 (12.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.9 apg)
F Jake Layman — Sr. 6-9, 220 (10.3 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.1 apg)
C Diamond Stone — Fr. 6-11, 255 (13.0 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 0.2 apg)
G Bronson Koenig — Jr. 6-4, 193 (13.3 pgg, 2.4 rpg, 2.3 apg)
G Zak Showalter — Jr. 6-2, 180 (7.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 2.3 apg)
F Vitto Brown — Jr. 6-8, 230 (9.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 0.6 apg)
F Nigel Hayes — Jr. 6-8, 240 (17.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 3.4 apg)
F Ethan Happ — Fr. 6-9, 235 (11.9 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 1.1 apg)
Biggest Matchup: Ethan Happ vs. Diamond Stone
Since these two teams last met, Stone has become a fixture in the starting lineup for the Terps and he’s earned every minute he’s gotten. Happ has been steady up until late and is coming off arguably his worst game of the season this past Wednesday. The redshirt freshman had just two points on 0-3 shooting from the field and just 2-4 shooting from the free throw line.
Happ will need to rebound, both literally and figuratively, if the Badgers want a chance at the big road upset. He is perhaps one of the most dangerous on the defensive glass, grabbing at least a quarter of all missed field goals by his opponents. Doing that against Stone will be a big challenge, as the Wisconsin native hits on 56.2 percent of his field goal opportunities.
One way for Happ to help his cause is to get Stone in to some early foul trouble on the other end of the court. It was something Happ just couldn’t do against Nebraska, but he’ll be needed to work hard inside in this matchup. Look for him to bounce back in a big matchup, as Happ seems to get up for these games more than any other on the season.
Could another double double be in his future on Saturday night? It will be a challenge, but don’t be surprised to see him work hard and come near it.
3 Numbers to Know:
— 14.4: Maryland’s graduate transfer, Rasheed Suliamon, is averaging 14.4 points per game in the Terps’ current 5-game win streak. Stopping him from joining the scoring parade is going to be a big thing for the Badgers defensive effort.
— 42.1: Wisconsin has increased its 3-point shooting from 33.5 percent under Bo Ryan to 42.1 percent under Greg Gard. In fact, the Badgers have been extremely hot the last two games and much different looking than in its 3-point loss to the Terps earlier in the Big Ten schedule. Shooting well from deep is certainly going to help pull the defense out of the middle for Happ and Hayes.
— 41.7: Speaking of long-distance shooting, point guard Bronson Koenig has been a snipper in Big Ten play. He’s hitting at 41.7 from 3-point range in conference play, while hitting 50 percent or better in four of the Badgers’ last six games.
Prediction: Maryland 72, Wisconsin 68
Maryland isn’t going to see the same team they did at the Kohl Center earlier in the season. Simply put, this Badgers team is confident and more diverse in its offensive game than it was at that point in the season.
However, the Xfinity Center is a very difficult place to go in to and earn a victory. Wisconsin will need all of what it has done lately and a much more efficient effort on the defensive end of the court. With Stone and Suliamon playing at a different level as of late, that could be a heck of an ask for the Badgers.
One does have to wonder how going out of conference for a strange contest against a D2 school like Bowie State will affect the rhythm of the Terps. Basketball is all about rhythm and Wisconsin comes in just as hot as the Terps.
I’ll give the nod to the home team, but don’t be surprised to see this one go down to the final seconds before the Terps seal the deal.