Wisconsin Basketball: Badgers look to stay atop Big Ten versus Michigan

Tied in the loss column with the Maryland Terrapins, the Wisconsin Badgers will look to keep pace in the conference standings when they host the Michigan Wolverines Tuesday night.

In a crazy start to the Big Ten season, only two teams have less than two losses as the No. 17 Wisconsin Badgers (14-3) sit just a half game back of first place behind the the Maryland Terrapins.

Thanks to a Michigan State loss to Ohio State and a Nebraska loss to Michigan, Wisconsin will now play almost every game moving forward with a target on their back as fellow competing teams around them continue to fall. Sitting at 3-1 in conference, the Badgers are coming off a 89-66 victory at the Kohl Center over Ohio State, pushing their home win streak to 16 games- longest in the Big Ten.

The Badgers will have another chance to add to that feat Tuesday night, as the ever-so mysterious Michigan Wolverines visit Madison. Michigan (12-6, 2-3) has shown glimpses of promise this season, but have been overshadowed by inconsistency all around. In their most recent victory over the surging Nebraska Cornhuskers, the Wolverines ended their two-game losing streak by scoring 91 points thanks to their ability to get to the foul line. Both Nebraska and Michigan shot 50 percent from three and around 55 percent from the field, but the disparity at the free throw line- Michigan 26-30, Nebraska 4-5- helped seal the victory and remained the deciding difference in the game.

Wisconsin has benefitted from back-to-back off weekends to start conference play and has used it to rest up the regulars and focus on getting in the bench players into bigger roles, not only in their last game, but also in practice.

“I think the experience has helped us. It’s helped us already,” head coach Greg Gard said regarding the unusual beginning to the Big Ten schedule.

The Badgers got 31 points off the bench in the teams’ win over Ohio State last Thursday in a game where they saw extended minutes from Jordan Hill (18 min.), Brevin Pritzl (13), and Alex Illikainen (12). The three combined for 16 points and four three-pointers.

Michigan will enter Tuesday night’s meeting holding onto a lot of talent on their team, with veteran players that are very well disciplined. The Wolverines currently lead the NCAA in fewest turnovers per game at 9.1 and have a roster made up of eight upperclassman, six of which are seniors.

This will be the first of two meetings on the year between the two squads. The Badgers took care of the Wolverines in their lone meeting last season in Madison by a score of 68-57. Michigan has lost six straight games versus Wisconsin, but their last win came in Madison in 2014 when the Badgers were ranked No. 3 in the country.

Tuesday night’s game will tip off at 8:00 pm CT and will air on ESPN.

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