Nate: Wisconsin 60, Minnesota 54
Ryan: Wisconsin 67, Minnesota 64
Hogey: Wisconsin 59, Minnesota 54
"Wild Card" Pick ( JF, FromtheBarn.org): Wisconsin 62, Minnesota 58
From the Bad Guys:The Golden Gophers have never won at the Kohl Center, but this year's team is the most talented they've had in years. They'll keep the score close the entire game, but in the end the Wisconsin defense and the home court advantage will be too much for Minnesota to overcome.The Badgers did not look like themselves in their 65-52 loss at Purdue Sunday. They made too many turnovers, they didn't get to the free throw line until late in the second half and they frequently looked lethargic getting up and down the floor. If Wisconsin wants to win Thursday, it will have to get back to the basics of playing solid defense and scoring points from the charity stripe.
If this game was on a neutral court and the Gophers weren't ranked, the Gophers might have been able to sneek up on Wisconsin and pull off the win. However, the Gophers are still very young, the game is still in Wisconsin, and the Gophers very much have a target on head. With better execution and a little Kohl Center voodoo, the Badgers will win 62-58.The Minority
Eric: Minnesota 65, Wisconsin 61
The main difference between Wisconsin and Minnesota so far has been the marquee victory. The Badgers lack a good, solid victory and had their offensive weaknesses exploited at Purdue on Sunday. Like Wisconsin, Minnesota is 3-1 in the Big Ten but has a great tournament resume win, winning at the University of Phoenix Stadium in December against Louisville. Wisconsin proved with its 74-69 loss at home against overrated Texas that the Kohl Center advantage isn’t what people think it is. Minnesota comes into Madison tonight and wins 65-61.
Back court: Trevon Hughes/Jason Bohannon vs. Al Nolen/Lawrence Westbrook
Edge: EvenFront court: Marcus Landry/Joe Krabbenhoft/Jon Leuer* vs. Damien Johnson/Ralph Sampson III/Colton Iverson
Edge: MinnesotaCoaching: Bo Ryan vs. Tubby Smith
Edge: Wisconsin*Note- Nankivil actually starts, but Jon Leuer plays more and is more important to the match-up. For this part of our preview, Nankivil will always be part of the bench, while Leuer will be listed with the starters.
5th Quarter's Take 5 with The Daily Gopher
Bucky's 5th Quarter exchanged five questions with The Daily Gopher. To see our answers to their questions, click here.
1) The Gophers haven't won in Madison since 1994 and they haven't beaten the Badgers at all since the "Vincent Grier Game" in '05. Why can this team end that streak?
This team is nothing like any that has played in the Barn since the days of Clem Haskins. They defend, they play well together and they are their most recent game was by far their most complete to date.
And for the first time in a long time this Gopher team matches up well with the Badgers. Our best defenders (Johnson and Nolen) will be on your best offensive players (Landry and Hughes). We just might even have an advantage or two. Bohannon scares me a little bit, but Tubby has this team playing well and playing together.
2) Colton Iverson and Ralph Sampson III have cool names, but they're also pretty good basketball players. What's the scouting report on these true freshmen?
Their scouting reports should really be a joint report. They combine for about 13 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks every game. Typically one of them has a very good game and the other struggles for whatever reason. But they combine with Damien Johnson to lead the nation in block percentage.
Iverson is more aggressive and has really been the surprise of this recruiting class. He is rebounding well and has more blocked shots. Sampson appears to be more laid back but he has a great shooting touch and has the potential to be a real scoring threat.
3) Who's the better coach, Tubby Smith or Bo Ryan?
Tubby Smith, hands down. I have great respect for Ryan and what he has done in Wisconsin. He finds guys to fit his system, teaches them very well and has produced great results. He is easily one of the most underrated coaches in the country. BUT, Tubby has a national championship, brings in top 20 recruiting classes on a regular basis and won 10 SEC titles (regular season or tournament) in 10 seasons at Kentucky.
Both are great teachers, both get more out of their teams and both have great win percentages. I believe they are the two best coaches in the Big Ten (all due respect to Izzo), but I think only Wisconsin and 50% of Kentucky fans would say Ryan here.
4) Is this the game the sparks what should be a bitter rivlary?
It could and nothing would be more fun. If Minnesota can come in and get a hotly contested win things could really spark. Bitter rivalries are a lot of fun, so I think we should all be rooting for a Gopher blowout that ends with the Gophers burrying a couple threes to run up the score. Wouldn't that be fun for all of us?
5) Which part of Minnesota's game will cause the biggest mis-match or headache for the Badgers?
It isn't an individual match up but the Gopher defense should really cause headaches for Wisconsin. As I mentioned before our two best defenders will likely match up with Landry and Hughes. Sampson will probably start out on Landry but Johnson will very likely spend most of the night guarding Landry. And I'm really looking forward to Nolen and Hughes on both ends of the floor.
I'm not dilusional enough to declare either of these match ups as advantages for Minnesota, but at the very least both players will have to work much harder than usual to get their points. They will be slowed and someone else is going to have to step up and make a difference for the Badgers.
(BFQ Note: For the record, in their game preview, TDG is going with the Gophers 64-59.)