After a huge road win Thursday night, Wisconsin returns home to face the Northwestern Wildcats tomorrow night. The Badgers fell to Northwestern 66-63 on January 23 in Evanston. This is a big game for both teams. Northwestern fell to Michigan Thursday at home 68-51. Tip time is 5:30 on BTN. Here is a preview of tomorrow night’s game.
Can Wisconsin Contain Boo Buie and Chase Audige?
I wrote this in the prior preview of the first match-up. Northwestern goes as far as their senior guards take them. In Evanston, it was the Boo Buie and Chase Audige show. Wisconsin did not have an answer for either guard. To be fair, Boo Buie is one of the fastest guards in the conference and Audige has had an excellent senior season. He is also an elite defender.
Buie and Audige combined for 36 of Northwesterns’s 66 points in the first meeting. Wisconsin trailed by as many as nine in the first half. However, they played much better in the second half and had a chance to win that game. To be honest, they should have won. Northwestern caught a huge break as Wisconsin missed nine of their final 10 shots. If Wisconsin can take contain either Buie or Audige or get one in foul trouble, I like Wisconsin’s chances.
Can Tyler Wahl Bounce Back?
Ever since the ankle injury against Minnesota in early January, Tyler Wahl has not been the same player. Ankle injuries are tough and it’s hard for a player to full recover in the same season. However, Wahl is becoming a liability on the offensive side. He’s still doing great work on the defensive side, but he’s leaving a ton of points on the floor and at the line.
Wahl will probably be the first to tell you that he’s struggling as well. As the leader of this young Wisconsin team, they need Wahl the rest of the way. In the last five games, Wahl is shooting only 37% from the field. For a player that does the majority of his work at the rim, that is not good.
It’s hard to beat the same team twice in a year in the Big Ten. I think if you ask Wisconsin, they will tell you they should have won that game in Evanston. Northwestern is coming off a 17 point home loss just a few days ago. I think Wisconsin could be catching the Wildcats at a good time.
It’s also worth noting Max Klesmit did not play in the first meeting. I would expect him to be on Boo Buie while Chucky Hepburn defends Chase Audige. That could be a difference as well.
For how ugly of a second half it was at Ohio State, it’s clear when Wisconsin gets the ball in the post, they are at their best. They won’t have the height advantage they had Thursday, but I still think that’s the Badgers bread and butter on offense.
Wisconsin has some momentum with them and I think Northwestern might be looking for it. I think this is another close defensive battle, but I give Wisconsin the edge in this game with having Max Klesmit and momentum.
Wisconsin 68 Northwestern 63
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