The Matchup: No. 4 Wisconsin (13-1, 1-0 B1G) at Northwestern (10-4, 1-0 B1G)
When: Sun. Jan 4; 7:30pm CT
Where: Evanston, IL; Welsh-Ryan Arena
Radio: Badger Radio Network
Last Meeting: Northwestern Win, 65-56
All-Time Series: UW leads, 112-62
Projected Starting Lineups:
G Bryant McIntosh — Fr. 6-3 177 (11.7 ppg, 4.9 apg)
G Tre Demps — Jr. 6-3 198 (11.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg)
G/F Sanjay Lumpkin — So. 6-6 220 (7.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg)
F Vic Law — Fr. 6-7 185 (7.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg)
C Alex Olah — Jr. 7-0 279 (10.4 ppg, 7.1 rpg)
G Traevon Jackson – Sr.6-3, 207 (9.4 ppg, 2.9 apg)
G Josh Gasser – Sr. 6-4, 192 (7.1 ppg, 2.7 rpg)
F Sam Dekker – Jr. 6-9, 230 (12.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg)
F Nigel Hayes – So. 6-8, 235 (12.6 ppg, 7.4 rpg)
C Frank Kaminsky – Sr. 7-0, 242 (16.6 ppg, 8.4 rpg)
Key Matchup: Traevon Jackson vs. Bryant McIntosh
Freshman vs. grizzly vet…some may see this as a complete mismatch, but the reality is, McIntosh isn’t afraid of anyone that Northwestern has played. He’s also the most important player to this team’s offense, swinging the ball and making the right pass.
That means Wisconsin’s senior guar, Traevon Jackson, must be on his defensive ga
me tonight. Not only that, but he has to avoid the turnovers as McIntosh and the Wildcats haven’t been that good in the steals department. Northwestern comes in to this game ranked dead last in steals, averaging 3.8 per game, and only 53 all season long.
Jackson and the Badgers won’t be easy to turn the ball over, as the team is first in assist to turnover ratio at 1.5, but Jackson needs to avoid the boneheaded play that he seems to come up with at least a few times a game.
Look for Jackson to give the newbie a lesson in what it’s like to play Big Ten Basketball.
3 Important Numbers:
- 117.5: That is Wisconsin’s adjusted offensive efficiency rating according to KenPom. That puts the Badgers as the third most efficient offense in the country heading in to the game. UW’s defense is 18th and that makes them one of just five teams to rank in the top 20 of both categories in the country. Northwestern’s defense ranks 77th.
- 4: Wisconsin is on a four-game winning streak at Welsh-Ryan Arena (if you can call that barn an arena). The Badgers have also won six of the last seven contests in Evanston.
- 157: Head coach Bo Ryan owns 157 career wins in the Big Ten. Winning on Sunday against Northwestern would tie him for the Badgers basketball record for most conference wins by a head coach.
Prediction: Wisconsin 75, Northwestern 60
There’s little doubt the Badgers aren’t going to forget the terrible loss at home last season to Northwestern. There’s also little doubt that there is a great talent disparity between these two teams, but that doesn’t mean this game won’t be a battle. Northwestern seems to play the Badgers pretty well from time to time and Chris Collins has this program heading in the right direction.
Wisconsin just happens to be vastly superior in nearly every major statistical category and when viewing both of these teams. It would take a perfect game from Northwestern to avoid a fight-straight loss to UW at home, but that’s not going to happen.
Hayes and Dekker go off, and the Badgers win this by a score that’s closer than the game actually was.