The eighth ranked Wisconsin Badgers return home tomorrow night take on the 14th ranked Michigan State Spartans. Both teams have just one conference loss. The Badgers are coming off a solid road victory over Northwestern Tuesday night. There are plenty of conference implications on the line tomorrow night. Here’s what the Badgers need to do in order to get another huge resume win. Tip time is 8 PM on FS1.
Win The Offensive Rebound Battle
The Badgers did not do a good job on the defensive glass Tuesday night. They have up 12 offensive rebounds to Northwestern. I’m sure Greg Gard made his players aware of that and are making corrections.
On the glass, Michigan State averages 40 rebounds a game. The Badger average 36. While the stats are similar, I believe whoever wins the 50/50 plays on offensive rebounds wins this game. The Spartans have players such as Gabe Brown, Wisconsin native Joey Hauser, Malik Hall, and Marcus Bingham Jr who are all capable of rebounding the ball. It’s a Tom Izzo led team so they won’t beat themselves.
Get To The Free Thrown Line Early and In The End
What was arguably the worst thing Wisconsin did against Northwestern? They ended poorly on the free throw line. At one point, the Badgers missed five key free throws in a row during the last few minutes of the game. That had to make the players and the coaches angry as well.
As a team, the Badgers shoot 75.2% from the charity line. That is second in the conference only behind Iowa. The Spartans shoot 73.5% as a team. Again, a similar stat, but the Badgers overall shoot better from the line and shoot well at home. I believe free throws will be critical to this game. Wisconsin got to the line 26 times Tuesday. If they can get to the line 26 times tomorrow night, I like their chances.
Steal Momentum Early and Often
These are two really good teams and both will go on runs. As a result, one good run could be the deciding factor. The Badgers have done a great job at the fundamentals to this point in the season. Good fundamentals and good defense will reward a team with good offense. If Wisconsin does the little things, they will win this game.
It’s easier said than done with a Tom Izzo team. The Spartans don’t beat themselves, they share the ball really well, and they make timely shots. It’s a veteran team so the crowd won’t bother them. Wisconsin needs to create their own momentum and keep their foot on the gas when they do.
These teams are so similar on paper when you look at the stats. Similar at the line, similar scoring, and similar scoring defense just to name a few. I’ve watched the Spartans a few times this year and they look like one of the best teams in the conference. This is easily a second weekend team in March and potentially further. This is a team full of seniors and they do the little things correctly.
It came out today that tomorrow’s game a sell out. The Badger faithful will be loud and the students will be involved, even if they don’t start classes until next week. We have seen the Badgers win ugly and win beautifully. There’s no doubt this will be a physical and low scoring game.
The Spartans will make this a 40 minute game and they will have their runs. At the end, I think the Badgers make their free throws down the stretch at get another great resume win.
Wisconsin 68 Michigan State 64