Wisconsin-Michigan Preview

Wisconsin boosted its Big Ten title hopes this week by handing

the leader its first conference loss, but the momentum could be

short-lived if its play on the road doesn’t improve.

The 16th-ranked Badgers look to win their eighth straight over

Michigan on Saturday as they try to avoid a third consecutive road

loss.

Wisconsin (17-5, 7-3) continued its outstanding play at home

with a 67-49 win over No. 5 Michigan State on Tuesday, improving to

13-0 at the Kohl Center. The Spartans were the last undefeated team

in Big Ten play, though they still hold a two-game lead while the

Badgers are part of a four-way tie for second place.

Wisconsin had one of its best defensive performances, holding

Michigan State to 37.0-percent shooting and its lowest point total

of the season. Four Badgers scored in double figures, led by Jason

Bohannon’s 19 and Jordan Taylor’s 17. Leading scorer Trevon Hughes,

averaging 15.5 points, was limited by foul trouble and scored five

points in 24 minutes.

“It’s nice to beat teams like that and at home,” Taylor said.

“At the same time, it’s a home game and we’re going to have to go

to Michigan on Saturday and that’s a tough team. … You just have

to go to the next game and try to get better and not try to dwell

on one game too much.”

Taylor, scoring 9.8 points per game for the season, has averaged

16.7 along with 5.0 assists over the last three contests.

As well as the Badgers have played at home, they’ve struggled on

the road, going 2-4 and losing their last two. They are scoring

60.3 points per game on the road while averaging 71.7 at home.

Wisconsin wasn’t impressive offensively in a 54-48 home win over

Michigan on Jan. 20, scoring only 18 points in the first half and

shooting 34.0 percent for the game. However, the Wolverines weren’t

much better at 36.2 percent and were held to five points in the

final five minutes.

Michigan’s DeShawn Sims had game highs of 23 points and 13

rebounds, but Wolverines leading scorer Manny Harris was held to 11

on 4-of-14 shooting.

Harris averages 18.7 points and Sims adds 17.0 per game, but

that duo had a combined 15 points on 6-of-23 shooting in a 67-52

loss at Northwestern on Tuesday.

Michigan (11-11, 4-6) shot 32.7 percent, including 6 of 25 in

the second half. Sims had a season-low four points after averaging

20.8 in his previous four games.

“He had a rough night,” coach John Beilein said.

The loss was the Wolverines’ fourth in five games, during which

they’ve averaged 55.0 points and shot 36.6 percent. Their only win

during that stretch was a 60-46 home victory over Iowa on Jan. 30 –

the last time they played in Ann Arbor. They are 9-3 at home.

Beilein was particularly disappointed by his team’s defense

beyond the arc Tuesday after Northwestern made 10 of 20 attempts.

His team might do a better job against the Badgers, who are

shooting 29.0 percent from 3-point range over the last eight games

– 4 of 24 against Michigan.

Wisconsin has won seven straight in this series since Michigan’s

85-76 victory in Ann Arbor in 2006. Hughes is averaging 18.3 points

in his last three games against the Wolverines.