The Matchup: Wisconsin (20-10, 11-5 B1G) vs. Purdue (23-7, 11-6)
When: Sun. March 6; 6:30p.m. CT
Where: West Lafayette, Ind.; Mackey Arena (14,124)
Radio: Badgers Sports Network
Last Meeting: Purdue won 61-55 (12/29/15)
All-Time Series: Purdue leads 105-70
G P.J. Thompson — So. 5-10, 188 (5.3 ppg; 2.2 rpg; 2.7 apg)
G Rapheal Davis — Sr. 6-6, 217 (8.7 ppg; 4.0 rpg; 2.0 apg)
F Vince Edwards — So. 6-8, 225 (10.5 ppg; 5.4 rpg; 2.9 apg)
F Caleb Swanigan — Fr. 6-9, 250 (9.9 ppg; 8.2 rpg; 1.9 apg)
C A.J. Hammons — Sr. 7-0, 250 (14.8 ppg; 7.8 rpg; 2.6 apg)
G Bronson Koenig — Jr. 6-4, 193 (13.7 pgg, 2.5 rpg, 2.4 apg)
G Zak Showalter — Jr. 6-2, 180 (7.6 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.3 apg)
F Vitto Brown — Jr. 6-8, 230 (9.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 0.7 apg)
F Nigel Hayes — Jr. 6-8, 240 (16.1 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 3.1 apg)
F Ethan Happ — Fr. 6-9, 235 (11.9 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 1.2 apg)
Biggest Matchup: Ethan Happ vs. A.J. Hammons
Ethan Happ has had a rough time staying out of foul trouble as of late, and that just simply can’t happen in this matchup against Purdue. With Purdue able to throw a pair of 7-footers at a team, Wisconsin can’t afford to loose its only major post presence on offense or defense.
Over the past six games, Happ is averaging 3.1 fouls per game and has reached the 4-foul mark in five Big Ten games. Staying out of that kind of foul trouble will be key, as Happ will be needed as much on the boards as he will down low on the offensive side of the ball.
The first matchup against Purdue is proof of just how important Happ is to the Badgers, as he went just 1-8 from the field and had just three rebounds in the losing effort. If Happ has learned anything from this season we’ll find that out in a key matchup against Hammons, who averages a team-high 10.7 points per game against Wisconsin for his career.
3 Numbers to Know:
— 52%: Wisconsin point guard Bronson Koenig has been arguably the most clutch player in the final five minutes of games. In fact, he is shooting 52 percent from the three-point line in the final five minutes alone.
— 198: Wisconsin has made 198 free throws in its last 12 games, an incredible number in and of itself. However, it is also incredible because opponents have taken fewer free throws (197) than the Badgers have made in that same span. Getting to the line is always key on the road, but could be really helpful given Purdue’s size advantage.
— .772: No team has been as good as the Badgers have been on the road in the last three seasons, as UW owns a 44-13 road/neutral site record in that span. That happens to be the best record in the country, and the second-best win percentage in the country. However, the Badgers are just 5-3 in B1G play this season.
Prediction: Purdue 68, Wisconsin 64
Two words equal a Wisconsin loss — Mackey Arena.
Some will point to UW losing by just six points to start the season and the different looks of these two teams since that time, but this place is simply a house of horrors for the Badgers. Wisconsin has won a grand total of 18 times in West Lafayette and much better teams than this one have gone down to defeat on the road.
While the Badgers are hot and Purdue just 3-3 in February, this isn’t a game or a place where you can go on an extended scoring drought and succeed. Given UW’s propensity for doing just that, it’s why I can’t see the Badgers winning this one.