The Wisconsin Badgers play host to the Maryland Terrapins tonight at the Kohl Center. The Badgers improved to 2-0 in Big Ten play and 8-1 overall after a 85-76 Christmas Day win at Michigan State. The Terrapins are coming off a Christmas Day loss to Purdue 73-70. Maryland is 0-2 in conference play and 5-3 overall. Tip time is 6 PM on FS1. Below are the keys to a Badger victory tonight!
The Reuvers and Potter Show
If Wisconsin is going to be 3-0 in the Big Ten standings, seniors Nate Reuvers and Micah Potter will need to have big games. Wisconsin will have the height advantage throughout most of the game. Maryland does play 7’2 sophomore Chol Marial, however he has only averaged 9.4 minutes of playing time this year. We might see Marial play more minutes against Potter and Reuvers, but I still think this match up is in favor of the Badgers.
Galin Smith is a 6’9 senior who is averaging 15 minutes a game this year as well. Smith doesn’t play a ton of minutes either as Maryland is normally a guard-heavy lineup most nights. This seems like a game the 6’10 Potter and 6’11 Reuvers can take control of regardless if both are on the court or if one is one the court. Experience matters in the Big Ten. There is no set of forwards with more experience than Wisconsin.
Contain The Maryland Big Three
Maryland is led by 6’5 junior Eric Ayala who averages 14.4 points per game. Donta Scott (pictured above) is a 6’7 sophomore who is averaging 13 points per game. 6’6 junior Aaron Wiggins also paces the Terrapins with 10.5 points per game. All three individuals can score from anywhere on the court. For example, Scott is shooting 64.3% from the field and 53.8% from three. Ayala shoots 49.3% from the field while Wiggins shoots 41% from the field.
Donta Scott is solid young player who needs to be at the top of every opponents scout report. At 6’7, he’s all over the court and will be counted on to have a great night tonight if Maryland wants to upset Wisconsin. Wisconsin leads the Big Ten in defense giving up only 59.6 points per game. They will need to be up to the test tonight.
Keep Early Season Momentum
Wisconsin has looked really good in their first two conference games. The only blemish so far was missing 15 of their first 16 shots against Nebraska. Wisconsin responded by blowing out the Cornhuskers 67-53 and then taking out a very good Michigan State team on the road.
Being 3-0 in the toughest conference in the country is crucial moving forward. While the Big Ten season is still early, there is no guarantee win on the Badger’s Big Ten schedule. Maryland is looking to find their identity after losing Jalen Smith to the NBA and long time point guard Anthony Cowan Jr. Wisconisn has one of the most experienced teams in the conference. This will need to show up again tonight.
When you look at the stats for Wisconsin and Maryland, they are really close. On paper, it looks like Wisconsin is playing themselves. For example, Wisconsin is averaging 78.1 points a game while Maryland averaged 75.1 points a game. Wisconsin only allows 59.6 points a game while Maryland allows 65.3 points a game. While the season is still early, these look to be two similar teams Something will need to give.
It doesn’t matter if there are no fans in the Kohl Center. Wisconsin has played really well at home this year and plays great at home most years. The home team usually has the advantage in the Big Ten conference to begin with. If there was a time for a significant upset, it could be tonight with Maryland coming to town.
As mentioned earlier, Maryland will have a height advantage in the guard match up against Brad Davison and D’Mitrik Trice. However, I don’t see how Maryland is defend both Micah Potter and Nate Reuvers. Both can beat you in the paint and from the three. These are big men who like to move around and beat you multiple ways. After having relatively quiet games against Nebraska and Michigan State, I expect Reuvers and Potter to lead Wisconisn to a victory tonight.
Wisconsin- 65 Maryland- 58