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Minnesota Basketball: Previewing Wisconsin

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Gophers seeking sweep of Wisconsin

NCAA Basketball: Minnesota at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

After a missed opportunity on the road in West Lafayette, where Minnesota built an astounding 13-point lead on the Boilermakers only to give it away down the stretch, the Gophers return home in the back half of the border battle with Wisconsin. Anybody remember the Gophers held the Badgers to 14 points in the first half in Madison? I certainly do and I’m willing to bet that the Badgers do as well.

Essentials:

Who are the Gophers playing?

Wisconsin Badgers (8-4, 16-6)

What time are they playing?

Wednesday, Feb. 6 @ 8 p.m. CT

Where are they playing?

Williams Arena (Minneapolis, MN)

Can I watch the game on TV?

Yes, BTN

Can I listen to the game on the radio?

Yes, KFAN 100.3-FM.

Tell me more about the opponent.

The Badgers have gone on a 5-game win streak that includes wins over Michigan and Maryland, both at home. As always, a highly efficient team on offense with a very good defense.

The team really centers around Ethan Happ on the inside with a number of dangerous shooters around him. That, in a nutshell, is how Wisconsin’s offense operates.

Happ is an All-American candidate who scores with a bunch of subtle post moves and gets himself into great position to score before he ever has the ball. He leads the team in scoring and rebounding, he ranks 5th and 2nd in the Big Ten in those respective categories. The Badger offense runs through him. Then comes the shooters.

D’Mitrik Trice is at point and shoots 45% from three then Brad Davison at shooting guard is only shooting 44% from behind the arc. Both are top five in the Big Ten and as a team the Badgers are top 10 in the country. Then you have to still worry about Nate Reuvers and Brad Pritzl who shoot 3s at 40% and 39%. This team can shoot. Their 22.7% from three in their Gopher loss was their worst shooting night from three in the Big Ten this year. It certainly helped aid a Gopher win.

Predictions

No way I’m picking the Gophers to win. Sweeping Wisconsin is no easy task, but there are two things I like here for the Gophers.

First of all, I think this team has been playing very well since the Illinois debacle. 3-2 since that ugly game and the two losses were a buzzer-beater at Michigan and then a loss at Purdue when they played great about 75% of that game.

Secondly, this game is at home. This is not insignificant.

But this will come down to making sure Happ has an average game and the Gophers defend shooters, with an emphasis on the latter. I’ll gladly take a game where Happ has 25 points but the Badgers as a team shoot under 30% from three.

The smart money is on a Badger win, but I’m feeling pretty good about our chances to get another resume-boosting win.