#3 ranked Michigan Basketball will play at Wisconsin on Saturday afternoon. Tip is scheduled for noon and the game will be televised on ESPN. For the third time this season, the Wolverines will be playing with a shot at the #1 ranking on the line. That’s because #1 Indiana and #2 Florida both lost this week.
The names and faces may change, but under Bo Ryan Wisconsin just keeps doing what they do and that is grind other teams down and give themselves a chance to win every game they play. The Badgers don’t have the most talented roster in the conference, but they play their system very well and they play as a team with absolute cohesiveness. The ringleader this year is senior Jared Berggren who leads Wisconsin in scoring (11.8) and is second on the team in rebounding (6.8). Mike Bruesewitz is still around and still brings the energy every game for the Badgers.
We know Wisconsin will slow the pace of the game way down by running the shot clock down to the final ticks before hoisting a shot. This puts a premium on every possession as there will be fewer of them then there would be in most games. That’s ok with Michigan as they are nation’s most efficient offensive team averaging 1.21 points per possession.
This is game #3 in a brutal 4 game stretch for the Wolverines. It started with the loss at Indiana, continued with the OT victory over Ohio State and will conclude on Tuesday when they play at Michigan State.
The Kohl Center is a difficult place to win. Michigan has lost there in each of their last 10 visits and haven’t tasted victory at Wisconsin since 1999, a win that has since been vacated. The last time Michigan won at Wisconsin, that still stands, was in 1991. This Michigan team has already played some tough road venues this year, Indiana, Ohio State, Minnesota, and Illinois to name a few, they won’t be fazed by the atmosphere in Madison.
Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr have solidified their status as the nation’s top backcourt with each and every game this season. The duo was simply sensational during Michigan’s win over the Buckeyes. They combined to shoot 13-26 from the field and 10-16 from beyond the arc with 39 points, 9 assists, 5 rebounds and two huge blocked shots. The Badgers don’t have the athletes to contain this dynamic duo.
One advantage the Badgers have seemed to have on the Wolverines during the recent past is size. This year, Michigan has the big men to counter Wisconsin’s never ending supply of big guys. Mitch McGary is improving by leaps and bounds and will be a key factor in this game. Jon Horford has been playing well and Jordan Morgan is making progress in his recovery from a sprained ankle. Defensive rebounding will be critical for Michigan in this game. There are few things more back breaking than to play good defense for 35 seconds as the Badgers milk the shot clock away only to give up an offensive rebound on a missed shot. Another key factor with defensive rebounding is it will be Michigan’s only chance to run because the Badgers, like the Wolverines, do not turn the ball over very often. In fact, Wisconsin leads the country in fewest turnovers per game (9.2) and Michigan ranks 3rd (9.4).
This will be a gritty, hard fought game. In the end, Michigan’s superior talent should be able to overcome the Badgers mind-numbing system and keep the Wolverines at the head of the pack in the Big Ten.
Predictions: So far this season I am 22-1 and Joe is 20-3 predicting the outcome of Michigan Basketball games. We both like Michigan to claim a rare victory at the Kohl Center.
Joe: Michigan 65-60
Rob: Michigan 62-55
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