Preview: Wisconsin At Minnesota
Eighth-ranked Wisconsin will attempt to snap its two-game slide at a difficult place to win when the Badgers visit Minnesota on Wednesday. The Golden Gophers have won 26 out of 29 games at home – 9-3 in Big Ten action – since the start of last season, including an overtime triumph over Wisconsin last February. Ballhandling will be at a premium in the matchup as Wisconsin commits a nation-low 8.3 turnovers per game and Minnesota leads the Big Ten in steals.
The Badgers are coming off close losses to Indiana and Michigan while allowing 76 points per game – more than 13 above their season average. The Golden Gophers have been up and down defensively of late, giving up 94 and 87 in two losses along with 53 in a big home victory over Ohio State. Both teams rely on long-distance shooting as Wisconsin is second and Minnesota fourth in the Big Ten in made 3-pointers per contest.
TV: 8 p.m., Big Ten Network
ABOUT WISCONSIN (16-2, 3-2 Big Ten): The Badgers shot almost 50 percent from the field combined over the last two games, but failed to find ways to win. “We’ve got to bounce back,” Wisconsin guard Josh Gasser told reporters after the Michigan loss. “It’s a long season, so two losses aren’t going to kill us, but at the same time we have to get better. That’s our main priority now.” Sam Dekker averages 13.8 points to lead the Badgers while 7-0 Frank Kaminsky (13.5) and 3-point ace Ben Brust (13.2) have also contributed.
ABOUT MINNESOTA (14-5, 3-3): The Golden Gophers are shooting only 43.7 percent overall and will need to improve on that if they are to take up a position near the top of the Big Ten standings. Andre Hollins averages 16.2 points to lead the way for Minnesota while fellow guardsAustin Hollins (11.8) and DeAndre Mathieu (11.2) have each put up good numbers on the offensive end. Elliott Eliason, a 6-11 junior, is second in the league in rebounding (8.7) and blocked shots (2.6) to go along with six double-doubles.
1. Neither team has scored more than 58 points in the last three meetings and Wisconsin has won four of the last five encounters.
2. Minnesota G Malik Smith, a transfer from Florida International, shoots 87.8 percent from the free-throw line to lead the Big Ten and averages 9.6 points.
3. Wisconsin has scored at least 70 points in nine consecutive games, the longest such stretch since the 1992-93 season.
PREDICTION: Wisconsin 68, Minnesota 62