Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wisconsin Preview

#18 Minnesota Golden Gophers (15-1, 3-1) at Wisconsin Badgers (12-4, 3-1)

The Badgers are recognized to be a good team and a legitimate NCAA caliber team. The losses they have had are to elite teams like UCONN and Texas but they have yet to beat a guaranteed NCAA team. They still have done an excellent job of protecting the Kohl Center which is the hardest place to go on the road in the Big Ten. Here is Wisconsin's resume:

Wins to showcase:
  • At Michigan 73-61
  • At Virginia Tech 74-72
Losses to hide from:
  • At Purdue 52-65
  • At Marquette 58-61
  • Ball Control: 10.6 turnovers per game best in conference
  • Defensive Rebounding: Rebound 73.8% of possible defensive rebounds, 2nd in conference
  • Marcus Landry: 12.8 ppg, 4.1 rebs, 1.6 ass
  • Defense: Opponents shoot 42.1% 3rd worst, force 10.7 turnovers per game worst in Big Ten
  • Assists: 12 per game second worst in Big Ten
  • Scoring Depth: Only five players (Landry, Hughes, Bohannon, Leuer, Krabbenhoft) average more than 5 points a game. The Gophers have 8 players.
As you can see the Badger losses are not to0 bad although they looked pretty bad in the Purdue game. Their defense is not at the level accustomed to Badger basketball. They are allowing 59.3 ppg compared to 54.4 last year and 57.9 two years ago. Opponents only shot 38.3 percent last year. This team is still a very good team but they are not as good as the Badger teams of the last two years with Alondo Tucker and Kammron Taylor.

Interesting things to watch:
  • Minnesota players: As usual the Wisconsin team has a handful of Minnesota players. I don't see this as a huge problem as the players don't usually match the Gophers style of play. This current squad has 4 Minnesota players on it. Soph. Jon Leuer (Orono) is the biggest contributor with 9.8 ppg and 4.2 reb. Other players are Sr. Kevin Gullikson (5.8 mpg), Fr. Jordan Taylor (10.6 mpg) and Fr. Jared Berggren who has yet to play.
  • The newcomers playing their first hostile environment. Road games at Colorado St. and Iowa are not exactly the same as what it will be like for the newcomers at the Kohl Center. With Wisconsin's size we are going to need Colton Iverson and RSIII to play strong down low. We also will need the continued growth of one Mr. Carter. This will be the real wake-up as to what a Big Ten road game really is.

If this game was at Williams Arena or a neutral site this would be a different story. I think Wisconsin and Minnesota are fairly equal overall. The problem is that in Minnesota's two true road games (Louisville does not count) they struggled to beat a 5-11 Colorado State team that lost to a school named St. Martins and they shot 34% against a terrible Iowa team that had no offensive game outside shooting 3-pointers. To go and win in Kohl it takes a team of men or a superior athletic team. That is not the Gophers at this stage of the game. I hope I am wrong because I would enjoy nothing more than for the Gophers to win tomorrow, but I just don't see the toughness needed to beat Wisconsin at home.

Badgers 65, Gophers 57

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