The Wisconsin Badgers resume Big Ten play tomorrow night against their rival the Minnesota Golden Gophers. The Big Ten is a gauntlet schedule and this year will be no different. Tip time at the Kohl Center is at 8 PM on BTN. Here is a preview of tomorrow night’s game.
A Reeling Minnesota Team
Minnesota is in the second year of what could be a long rebuild. Second year head coach Ben Johnson is still trying to implement his style of play with a very young team.
The Golden Gophers are 6-6 overall and 0-2 in the Big Ten. They don’t necessarily have a big win yet, they have struggled against mid-major teams, and have been blown out in each of their first two conference games. They are also last in the Big Ten in scoring and 12th in scoring defense.
Doing The Little Things Right
Wisconsin won’t get an easier draw in Big Ten play than Minnesota. This is a game the Badgers have to have. A loss here would look really bad on a resume that has looked pretty impressive to this point.
There are still things Wisconsin has to improve on before getting into the meat and potatoes of the conference schedule. They have to be better at the free throw line and they have to be better rebounding the ball. The Badgers were out-rebounded by Western Michigan despite a considerable advantage with height. They can’t give Minnesota extra possessions and a reason to believe they can get the upset win.
I still don’t think Wisconsin has hit its stride yet. You can look at that as a good thing or a bad thing. At the same time, this just might be who they are this year. A really good defensive team that isn’t always consistent from the field or the free throw line. A huge road game at Illinois Saturday follows this game, but Wisconsin can’t overlook this team. At the end of the day, anyone can beat anyone in the Big Ten.
Wisconsin needs to get out to a good start and rebound the ball. If you give even a young re-building team like Minnesota second chances, they will burn you for it.
Minnesota has two good forwards in Dawson Garcia (a UNC transfer) and Jamison Battle. Battle is someone that can get hot early and can put up a ton of points on the stat sheet. The two combine for 27 of Minnesota’s 63 points a game. I would expect Minnesota will try to get these two involved early and often.
If Wisconsin can rebound, not go in long shooting slumps, and take the free points at the line, they shouldn’t have to sweat much. However, they have to put up a consistent 40 minutes. It’s already been a long year for Minnesota and they want nothing more than to get a road upset. I don’t see that happening tomorrow night.
Wisconsin 73 Minnesota 63
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