It’s the final stretch of the regular season for the Wisconsin Badgers. They begin a stretch of three straight home games tomorrow night against the Michigan Wolverines. Both teams are on the outside looking in of the NCAA Tournament. It’s a very important game for both teams. Tip time is 8 PM on ESPN2. Here is a preview of tomorrow’s game.
No Love Lost
You might remember the last time these teams met on February 20, 2022. Wisconsin won the game 77-63 in Madison. However, everyone remembers the scuffle that took place at the end of the game. Coaches Greg Gard and Juwan Howard were not happy and Howard ended up hitting Wisconsin assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft. As a result, Howard was suspended the final five regular season games.
Earlier in the year, Michigan center Hunter Dickinson was on the Roundball Podcast. It’s a podcast he’s a regular guest on. One episode, he was asked about Wisconsin and he called Wisconsin “scumbags”. It’s clear Dickinson doesn’t like Wisconsin. I would imagine the feeling is mutual. Giving a team bulletin board material usually doesn’t end well.
How Does Wisconsin Defend Hunter Dickinson?
Speaking of Dickinson, he’s a really good player and has been a good player since his freshman season. He’s a constant headache for opposing Big Ten teams. He’s become a better shooter outside the paint as well. This year, he’s currently averaging 18 points and eight rebounds a game. Wisconsin’s scouting report needs to revolve around him.
The Badgers have a decision to make. It’s similar to Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis. Do they let Dickinson beat them or make the supporting cast beat them? Wisconsin needs to be aware of freshman Jett Howard as well. He’s a 6’7 athletic freshman that can shoot as well. I think this could be a potential mis-match for Wisconsin.
Greg Gard mentioned in his press conference Saturday he was brutally honest with his team. He also mentioned he did not know what Badger team that was in the second half. He’s not wrong. It was inexcusable and about as poor of an effort as you can have, especially after opening up a 17 point lead.
How will a young team respond after their coach has now called them out? Veteran teams typically respond really well. We will see how this team responds. As mentioned earlier, Wisconsin also has the bulletin board material from Michigan too.
A lot of fans will remember what happened last year. I would expect the crowd to be loud and Area Red (the name of the student section) to be emotional as well. Wisconsin will have to control their emotions and use it to their advantage.
Both Michigan and Wisconsin are on the NCAA Tournament bubble. I know a ton of Wisconsin fans have already counted this team out, but if the Badgers make run to the tournament, it starts tomorrow.
Michigan’s athleticism does concern me. They have a clear advantage. Wisconsin’s defense will need to be up for the task and make timely stops.
The Badgers have played some un-inspired basketball the last two home games. I hope the third time is the charm as most of these players remembered what happened last year.
Wisconsin 67 Michigan 64
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