The Matchup: No. 4 Wisconsin (25-2, 13-1 B1G)
When: Tues. Feb. 24; 6pm CT
Where: College Park, MD; Xfinity Center (17,950)
Radio: Badgers Sports Network
Last Meeting: UW won, 78-69 at Maui Invitational (11/25/09)
All-Time Series: Wisconsin leads, 5-2
Projected Starting Lineups:
G Melo Trimble — Fr. 6-3, 190 (16.1 ppg, 3.6 rpg)
G Richaurd Pack — Sr. 6-4, 190 (6.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg)
F Dez Wells — Sr. 6-5, 215 (14.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg)
F Jake Layman — Jr. 6-9, 205 (13.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg)
C Damonte Dodd — So., 6-11, 245 (3.9 ppg, 4.0 rpg)
G Bronson Koenig – So. 6-4, 190 (7.7 ppg, 2.3 apg)
G Josh Gasser – Sr. 6-4, 192 (7.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg)
F Sam Dekker – Jr. 6-9, 230 (13.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg)
F Nigel Hayes – So. 6-8, 235 (12.1 ppg, 6.5 rpg)
C Frank Kaminsky – Sr. 7-0, 242 (17.7 ppg, 8.3 rpg)
Key Matchup: Nigel Hayes vs. Jake Layman
It’s about time for Nigel Hayes to take over a game once again. He’s reached double figures in just one of the last four games played, and that won’t work very well against a team like Maryland or against an individual matchup like he’ll see in Jake Layman.
Maryland is much like Wisconsin in that both teams have three players who can kill you if you aren’t playing lockdown defense. Luckily, while Hayes hasn’t been scoring a ton, he hasn’t let his defense slip as of late either. Hayes is averaging 7.3 rebounds per game over that same four-game stretch.
Still, Hayes and the Badgers haven’t seen a forward as good as Layman in some time and that means a chance to prove just how good he, and the team, are. Look for this matchup to be key to Wisconsin’s chances at victory, as Layman is the most well-rounded forward UW has faced. As long as we aren’t hearing his name on either end of the court, look for Badgers basketball to be pulling off a win.
3 Important Numbers:
- 12.7: Wisconsin leads the nation with the fewest fouls per game at 12.7. Last time out it was just seven fouls and just one free throw attempt for Minnesota.
- 7.4: Continuing the trend, Wisconsin leads the nation in fewest turnovers at 7.4 per game.
- 11.6: Finally, the Badgers also happen to lead the nation in fewest opponent free throw attempts per game with 11.6. Again, UW allowed just one free throw attempt to Minnesota last time out and it’s ability to keep opponents off the free throw line could come in real handy on Tuesday night.
Prediction: Wisconsin 74, Maryland 66
While the Terps have yet to lose at home this season in Big Ten play, Wisconsin is easily the best road team in the Big Ten. Not just this year, but over the course of multiple years. UW is 11-1 this season and 27-6 over the last two years away from the Kohl Center.
The other good news is that one home loss on the season happens to be to another ranked team — Virginia — who was ranked in the top 5 at the time of the loss (and still are in the top 5).
It all adds up to a team not intimidated by playing on the road and a home team who hasn’t faced a team this good since that UVa matchup.
Additionally, the Badgers have a massive advantage up front with Frank Kaminsky and Nigel Hayes. We all saw what Kaminsky can do with an athletic mismatch down low against Minnesota and it could be more of the same against the Terps. For as much as Melo Trimble presents the Badgers with an interesting matchup on the perimeter, Kaminsky does the same to the Terps down low.
Look for that advantage to be key to UW’s win, although it may be a bit deceiving as the Badgers salt away the game late from the free throw line.