After falling at home to Northwestern Sunday, Wisconsin heads back on the road for a battle with the Penn State Nittany Lions tomorrow. Wisconsin took the first game in Madison 63-60. Both teams are now on the outside of the NCAA Tournament. A win doesn’t help much, but a loss would be worse. Tip time is 7:30 on BTN. Here is a preview of tomorrow’s game.
Defend the Three vs. the Penn State Nittany Lions
In the first meeting, Wisconsin did a fairly good job defending the three. The Penn State Nittany Lions are a team that lives and dies by the three. They have a ton of threats in Andrew Funk, Jalen Pickett, Myles Dread and Seth Lundy. The Penn State Nittany Lions only shot 8-20 in Madison from three.
If the Badgers want a road win tomorrow, they must defend the three similarly. They will have to make Jalen Pickett into a passer more than a shooter. I also think you have to choose between Funk and Lundy, Both are excellent shooters, and you won’t be able to cover both. Either you hope they both have an off night, or you take one away.
Feed The Post
Because the Penn State Nittany Lions depend on the three-point shot, they don’t have much of a post presence. They do have 6’10 freshman Kebba Njie, but he only averages 14 minutes a game. It should be a game Steven Crowl, and Tyler Wahl dominate.
This is also a game Crowl and Wahl need to be better in. Crowl struggled against Northwestern and only shot the ball five times. On the other hand, Tyler Wahl has not been good since his return from the ankle injury he suffered Jan. 3 against Minnesota. At some point, these two need to become more consistent players Wisconsin can rely on. Right now, the Badgers are relying on Chucky Hepburn and Connor Essegian.
Wisconsin had a golden opportunity to start a winning streak and feel much better about themselves and this season. However, they responded the complete opposite and put up a dud at home in front of a good crowd. This has become a hard team to follow as of late. They can rely on their defense most nights, but they can’t do much more than that. Regardless of how good your defense is, it doesn’t matter if you can’t score.
Penn State is coming off a pretty bad loss to Nebraska on Sunday. While Seth Lundy did hit eight threes, their defense fell apart, and Nebraska was able to close them out at the end.
Penn State is also 11-1 at home. It reminds me of Maryland. Tough to beat at home and a totally different team on the road. I am not sure how packed the Bryce Jordan Center will be, but Wisconsin needs to bring their own energy if they want to steal a game on the road.
I don’t feel good about this game, and there isn’t anything I can think of that the Badgers can bring with them. I know that sounds harsh, but there was a good opportunity to build something and make a run to the NCAA Tournament. However, they did nothing with it. It’s hard to see the Badgers getting a road win against a team that defends their home court.
Prediction: Penn State Nittany Lions 72 – Wisconsin Badgers 64
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