Badgers Clash With Sparty

The #15 Wisconsin Badgers (19-6, 8-4 Big Ten) look to continue their success on the road as they travel to East Lansing to take on the #7 Michigan State Spartans (20-5, 9-3 Big Ten) at the Jack Breslin Center. Tip is at 6:00 PM CT and ESPN has the coverage.

The Badgers are currently on a 4 game road winning streak. They defeated Minnesota 68-61 in OT last Thursday to keep their Big Ten Title hopes alive. Wisconsin has won 7 of its last 8 games, and is only 1 game behind first place in the Big Ten with a 8-4 league record.

The Spartans are coming off their own huge road win, beating Ohio State 58-48 in Columbus on Saturday. They ended the Buckeye’s 39 game home winning streak thanks to their great defense, who held OSU to just 26.4% shooting. The Spartans forced star Buckeye forward Jared Sullinger to commit 10 turnovers, his career high. Michigan State is currently tied for first place in the Big Ten with OSU, with a 9-3 conference record.

 Who could forget the last time these two met? It was a back and forth battle that couldn’t be decided in regulation and when to overtime. Michigan State seemed to have won it when they led 60-54 with 31 seconds left. The Badgers weren’t done yet. Jordan Taylor hit back to back threes to bring the Spartan lead to 3. On the final play of the game, Jordan Taylor airballed a shot with 4 seconds left. Ryan Evans got the rebound under the basket, dribbled out, and launched a desperation three in effort to tie the game. The shot seemed to be in the air forever, and it finally hit the backboard, and bounced in to force double overtime.

Initially, the referees said the basket was good. Evans feet were behind the three point line, which tied the game. But after review, it seemed that the backboard clock had hit zero, while the stadium clock said “0.2”. 

“By rule we have to go by the clock that is on the backboard,” Referee Pat Driscoll said. “I don’t know why there would be different times - it could be satellite, electronic, whatever - but by rule we have to go by the clock that is attached to the backboard. In our review on the monitor, the clock clearly showed zeros while the ball remained in the Wisconsin player’s hands.” 

The Badgers suffered the heartbreak of the season, and Michigan State came out of the Kohl Center with the victory.

The Spartans are a perfect 15-0 at the Breslin Center while the Badgers are are 6-2 on the road. Michigan State is the nations 9th best rebounding team, averaging 40 boards a game. While the Badgers are 172th, averaging 34.6 rebounds a game. Michigan State is shooting 47.2% on the year while the Wisconsin is shooting just 42.7%. 

Two problems the Badgers had last time they faced the Spartans were stopping Draymond Green and creating quality shots. Green scored 18 points and grabbed 14 rebounds against the Badgers. He has the ability to post you up or take you off the dribble, which is tough to defend. Draymond is also a streaky shooter, and when he gets hot he can be a major problem for the defense. Green is averaging 15 points and 10.5 rebounds a game. He’s doing it efficiently though, shooting 44.3% on the season. I believe the Badgers best bet to stop Green would be having Ryan Evans shadow him. The less room you give Draymond the better, and he’s not very quick off the dribble. 

Creating shots has been a recurring issue for the Badgers. It often seems that they dribble down the clock without much ball movement until Jordan Taylor has to jack up a low quality three. When the shots aren’t falling for Wisconsin, they often find themselves shooting outside more often, when they should be looking for high quality shots inside. If the Badgers aren’t shooting well, they’ll have to make an adjustment to stay in the game. If they don’t, Michigan State could win this game by 15+.

This is one of the biggest tests of the season for the Badgers as they face an all around great team. They’ll need good shooting and great defense if they want to keep up with the Spartans. The winner of this game have their Big Ten title chances greatly increased, while the loser will have some big work to do. I think Wisconsin will come out strong and play a good game. However, Sparty is one of the best teams in College Basketball, and I think they’ll get it done in a close one.

Prediction: Wisconsin 59, Michigan State 63