After topping UConn, Michigan begins brutal road stretch
Home sweet home. It's been 11 days since the Wisconsin Badgers last played at the Kohl Center and oh, how things were different back then.
UW had just topped No. 4 Purdue for its second win over a top five team at home this season. The win made the Badgers look like a favorite for the Big Ten title and a team with major question marks coming into the season seemed to have hit its stride in a convincing win over one of the nation's top teams.
Then the news of Jon Leuer's fractured wrist broke and everything changed. Eleven days later, the outlook looks a lot different as UW was thoroughly outplayed at Ohio State Saturday without their star forward.
After the events of the past week and half, it's safe to say the Badgers are just happy to home.
Their opponent tonight, must feel the opposite way, however. After a great win against No. 15 UConn in Ann Arbor, Mich. Sunday, the Michigan Wolverines embark on a two-game road trip that will take them to Wisconsin and Purdue before a home game against Michigan State. Talk about murder's row.
But for a team that is 10-7 overall (3-2 Big Ten) and has already failed to meet high expectations this year, Michigan has quietly won four of their last five games and gained a lot of momentum after beating UConn. Still, it would be hard for fans in Ann Arbor to expect more than one win on this brutal three-game stretch and looking at their three opponents, the Leuer-less Badgers must seem ripe for the picking.
With that said, the Badgers have won six in a row against Michigan and here are our keys to making it seven in a row:
Keys to the game
- Touch the post. The talk all week at practice has been about UW's inability to touch the post since Leuer went down. In their last two games, 52 percent of the Badgers shots have come from behind the three-point line. The swing offense just doesn't work if you don't touch the post. The bottom line is that Keaton Nankivil has to stop shooting jumpers and start playing like a center.
- Drive to the basket. Ohio State did a good job of preventing this, but the Badgers have been better all season long when Trevon Hughes, Jordan Taylor and Jason Bohannon penetrate. They are all good three-point shooters, but none of them should be settling for threes. This will also get them back to the free throw line where UW has hardly visited in their last two games.
- Rebound, rebound, rebound. Look, Michigan is going to shoot threes. That's what the Wolverines do. And they can be very streaky when they do it. If Wisconsin rebounds the misses and doesn't allow Michigan to get second chance points, the Badgers will win their fifth Big Ten game of the season.
Wisconsin 63, Michigan 54