Badgers Basketball Preview: Michigan in the Big Ten tournament edition

The Matchup: No. 9 seed Michigan (16-15, 9-10 B1G) vs. No. 1 seed Wisconsin (28-3, 16-2 B1G)
When: Friday, March 13, 2015 at 11am CT
Where: Chicago, IL; United Center (20,917)
Radio: Badgers Sports Network
Last Meeting: UW won, 69-64 (ot) (1/24/15)
All-Time Series: MICH leads, 88-71


Projected Starting Lineups:


G Spike Albrecht – Jr. 5-11, 175 (7.4 ppg, 4.0 apg)
G/F Zak Irvin – So. 6-6, 215 (14.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg)
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman - Fr. 6-4, 175 (4.0 ppg, 1.4 rpg)
G/F Aubrey Dawkins – Fr. 6-6, 190 (6.6 ppg, 2.1 rpg)
Max Bielfeldt – Jr. 6-7, 245 (5.0 ppg, 3.7 rpg)


G Bronson Koenig – So. 6-4, 190 (7.8 ppg, 2.2 apg)
G Josh Gasser – Sr. 6-4, 192 (7.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg)
F Sam Dekker – Jr. 6-9, 230 (13.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg)
F Nigel Hayes – So. 6-8, 235 (12.0 ppg, 6.4 rpg)
C Frank Kaminsky – Sr. 7-0, 242 (18.4 ppg, 8.1 rpg)


Biggest Matchup: Sam Dekker vs. Aubery Dawkins

These two wing players are vital to the potential success of their teams, but do it in very different ways. Sure, both can cut and slash to the basket, but Dawkins lives much more on the perimeter jumper than does Dekker.

If Wisconsin is going to win this matchup, Dekker needs to use his length to keep Dawkins from slashing to the basket and make him strictly a three-point shooter. While Dawkins did go 8 of 12 from the field in the second round win over Illinois, he was just 2 of 5 from deep, meaning he was 6 of 7 from inside the arc.

Dawkins wasn’t on his game the last time around against the Badgers, and Dekker’s defense had a lot to do with it. He finished the game with just three points on just 1 of 3 shooting, which was his third lowest point total in Big Ten play and the fewest shots he took since being inserted in to the starting lineup early in conference play.

Dekker also happens to have a massive experience advantage, and he needs to make that work in his favor on both ends of the court. If Dekker is getting to the rim and making highlight reel plays it could very well be a good day for the Badgers.

In the previous meeting this season, Dekker put up 15 points on 6 of 11 shooting. He also tried too many three pointers and went 1 of 6 from deep. Avoiding the trap that Michigan likes to lull a team in to with it’s 2-3 zone defense will be important in the second go-round between these two at the United Center.


3 Important Numbers:

- 3-2: Wisconsin is the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten tournament for the fourth time, but are just 3-2 in those three previous times. The only time the Badgers have won the title with a No. 1 seed is in the 2008 season.

- 13: UW has led at the first media timeout in each of the last 13 games. During that stretch, the Badgers have out-scored their opponents by a 127-58 margin before the first media timeout. UW has led by an average of 5.3 points at the first media timeout, holding an average lead of 9.8 to 4.5.

- 15: Badgers basketball will enjoy a first-round bye in the Big Ten tournament for the 15th consecutive season, including all 14 years of Bo Ryan’s tenure. That’s some crazy stuff right there.


Prediction: Wisconsin 77, Michigan 58

While it’s tempting to go with the team with some momentum in tournament play, Michigan benefited a ton from a really crappy effort on the defensive end of the floor by Illinois. Wisconsin won’t do that, Wisconsin is taller, Wisconsin is more physical and Wisconsin is more athletic too. As long as UW doesn’t have a prolonged scoring drought that starts to affect its defensive effort this game could be over quickly.

Look for the Badgers to win this one in solid fashion to keep their hopes alive for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadger and associate editor of Bloguin's World Cup site, as well as Publisher of Big Ten site