The Match-up: No. 4 Wisconsin (15-1, 3-0 B1G) at Rutgers (9-7, 1-2 B1G)
When: Sun. Jan. 11; 5pm CT
Where: Piscataway, N.J.; Rutgers Athletic Center
Radio: Badger Radio Network
Last Meeting: Wisconsin Win, 70-62 (12/04/04)
All-Time Series: Wisconsin leads, 3-0
Projected Starting Lineups:
G Traevon Jackson – Sr. 6-3, 207 (9.5 ppg, 3.1 apg)
G Josh Gasser – Sr. 6-4, 192 (7.7 ppg, 2.9 rpg)
F Sam Dekker – Jr. 6-9, 230 (12.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg)
F Nigel Hayes – So. 6-8, 235 (12.1 ppg, 6.9 rpg)
C Frank Kaminsky – Sr. 7-0, 242 (16.9 ppg, 8.2 rpg)
G Myles Mack — Sr. 5-10, 175 (13.3 ppg, 4.3 apg)
G Mike Williams — So. 6-2. 190 (7.6 ppg, 2.1 rpg)
F Junior Etou — Jr. 6-7, 230 (8.2 ppg, 6.8 rpg)
F Kadeem Jack — Fr. 6-9, 235 (12.1 ppg, 6.8 rpg)
F Greg Lewis — Fr. 6-9. 245 (5.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg)
Key Match-up: Kadeem Jack vs. Nigel Hayes
While it may be a stretch to think the Badgers and Scarlet Knights are on the same playing field, don’t get it twisted…there is some talent for Rutgers up front. It just so happens to be very green talent. Perhaps the most promising player on the roster is 6-9 freshman forward Kadeem Jack, who is second on the team in scoring (12.8 ppg) and tied for the lead in rebounds (6.8 rpg).
He’s got a nice game with his back to the basket and will pose a good test for UW’s Nigel Hayes down low. While Hayes has elevated his game overall this year, he’s coming off a bad game against Purdue and will see a challenge from Jack on Sunday. Hayes will need to continue to hit jumpers and help pull the big man out of the middle for the rest of the team to do some work inside.
If Hayes can get his deep jumper going and be physical with the freshman then Wisconsin may be able to neutralize Jack’s game and increase already great odds of winning this matchup.
3 Important Numbers:
- 58.2: This the Rutgers scoring average. It is good for dead last in the conference and by a good margin. Northwestern falls in at 13th with an average of 64.3. The Scarlet Knights also are the only Big Ten team with a negative margin of scoring as they also give up 60.5 points a game. The rest of the league beat up on their non-conference opponents, something Rutgers needs to do in the future. Look for the Scarlet Knights to try to keep the score low, as a high scoring game favors the Badgers.
- 16.9, 8.2, 1.9: Okay so that’s three numbers, but bear with me. That’s Frank Kaminsky’s stat line on the year (points, rebounds, and blocks). He is one of only three major conference players that is averaging at least 16.9 points, 8 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks. He faced one of the other two in Duke’s Jahlil Okafor, with Syracuse’s Rakeem Christmas rounding out the three (h/t Patrick Herb).
- 3-0: Not only is Wisconsin the final unbeaten team in conference play at 3-0, the Badgers also lead the all-time series with Rutgers at 3-0. While that is nothing more than a coincidence, it is safe to say these two teams haven’t met much on the floor so it’ll have a weird feel as a conference game. Bo Ryan is 2-0 against them, as Rutgers and Wisconsin played a home and home series in 2003 and 2004.
Prediction: Wisconsin 73, Rutgers 56
I think this game ends up looking a lot like the Northwestern game. Both the Wildcats and Scarlet Knights fail to score points while also turning the ball over. It’s not a great combination and one that this current Wisconsin team will be able to exploit. It’s a different game time in a different location, but I don’t see that bothering an experienced Badgers team.
It all comes down to maximizing possessions and building an early lead. The Badgers will get it done and move to 4-0 in the B1G.