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Predicting every Wisconsin basketball Big Ten game of 2016-17

The Badgers enter Big Ten season as one of the conference favorites. Will that come to fruition?

NCAA Basketball: Wisconsin at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Previously, in wisdom, I took a look at Wisconsin’s non-conference slate of games, where the Badgers came away with a record of 11-2.

Big Ten Conference record prediction: 14-4 (25-6)

Dec. 27 vs. Rutgers

Rutgers is bad.

Prediction: Badgers 76, Scarlet Knights 55

Jan 3 at Indiana

The two teams that could finish the season at the top of the Big Ten standings will face off in a marquee matchup early in the conference season. If you don’t know about OG Anunoby, might I recommend doing some research. He’s got NBA length and athleticism written all over him, and will likely guard Nigel Hayes in this game. Thomas Bryant against Ethan Happ in the post was fun to watch last year at the Kohl Center, and this year’s installment will likely be just as enjoyable. A Bronson Koenig game-winner gives Wisconsin a big win.

Prediction: Badgers 64, Hoosiers 63

Jan. 8 at Purdue

Arguably Wisconsin’s two toughest Big Ten games come consecutively. Purdue lost AJ Hammons, but still has a fierce trio in Caleb Swanigan, Isaac Haas and Vince Edwards. A Boilermakers win at Mackey is the most likely outcome here. Coming away from the Indiana trip with a split isn’t shabby.

Prediction: Boilermakers 79, Badgers 74

Jan. 12 vs. Ohio State

Advanced metrics love Ohio State, though watching OSU throughout most of last season one would not speak as highly. The big thing for the Buckeyes: they return their top six scorers from last season. Guess who else also does: the Badgers.

Prediction: Badgers 70, Buckeyes 60

Jan. 17 vs. Michigan

The Wolverines look fairly similar to the Buckeyes (though those two fanbases may not enjoy hearing that). Both were bubble teams last season that return a good majority of last season’s scoring and minutes. Zak Irvin is likely going to take lots of deep twos and Derrick Walton Jr. will fill up the stat sheet. I’ll take the better team at home, especially if the Badgers can limit Michigan’s attempts from deep (Spoiler alert: That’s what Wisconsin does).

Prediction: Badgers 71, Wolverines 58

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

Jan. 21 at Minnesota

The Gophers aren’t nearly going to be the mess they were last season on both sides of the ball. The Badgers should win this game, but upsets, land mines and pretty inexplicable losses are a part of college basketball. At The Barn, Minnesota hands Wisconsin its fourth loss of the season.

Prediction: Gophers 72, Badgers 67

Jan. 24 vs. Penn State

After a disappointing loss to the Gophers, Wisconsin returns to the Kohl Center, where Ethan Happ goes to work against a smaller Penn State opponent. A big day from the redshirt sophomore leads the Badgers to victory.

Prediction: Badgers 65, Nittany Lions 49

Jan. 28 vs. Rutgers (Madison Square Garden)

Part of the Super Saturday of men’s basketball and hockey in New York City, Wisconsin will take on Rutgers for the second time this season. The Badgers will win handily.

Prediction: Badgers 77, Scarlet Knights 52

Jan. 31 at Illinois

Mike Thorne Jr. returns at center for the Illini, which will play the Badgers tough at home. Malcolm Hill, who Badgers guard Khalil Iverson said was the toughest player he had to defend last season, can almost singlehandedly keep Illinois in this one.

Prediction: Badgers 60, Illini 57

Feb. 5 vs. Indiana

I didn’t want to predict that the Badgers would beat the Hoosiers twice this season, but it’s Tom Crean vs. Wisconsin.

Prediction: Badgers 63, Hoosiers 62

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Indiana vs Chattanooga Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Feb. 9 at Nebraska

The Huskers lost Shavon Shield and Andrew White III, so they will rely on the backcourt combo of Glynn Watson Jr and Tai Webster. The only way Nebraska wins is if Wisconsin plays worse than it did last year in the Big Ten tournament.

Prediction: Badgers 59, Huskers 48

Feb. 12 vs. Northwestern

Bryant McIntosh is quite the point guard, but Northwestern will once again need an impressive Big Ten run to be a NCAA tournament team. It’s tough to foresee that happening unless Drew Crawford is coming back through those doors.

Prediction: Badgers 70, Wildcats 52

Feb. 16 at Michigan

A bit of a challenging road stretch kicks off for the Badgers when they travel to Ann Arbor. After this game, Wisconsin hosts Maryland at home before traveling to Ohio State and then Michigan State. The Wolverines fell to the Badgers at the Kohl Center earlier in the season, but the Crisler Center hosts a home-team victory this time.

Prediction: Wolverines 71, Badgers 69

Feb. 19 vs. Maryland

Maryland has Melo Trimble, but dropped a whole lot of talent from last year’s team. No Trimble buzzer beaters here.

Prediction: Badgers 68, Terrapins 58

Feb. 23 at Ohio State

Can we take a moment to appreciate OSU’s arena name? Value City Arena at the Jerome Schottenstein Center.

Prediction: Badgers 64, Buckeyes 55

Feb. 25/26 at Michigan State

The Spartans and Badgers only face each other once this season, and that showdown will come in East Lansing when Tom Izzo’s young team will (likely) have things figured out. Michigan State is a top-four Big Ten team and even tougher at home.

Prediction: Spartans 74, Badgers 67

March 2 vs. Iowa

Peter Jok may put up 63 shots in this game, but that still wouldn’t be enough.

Prediction: Badgers 79, Hawkeyes 64

March 5 vs. Minnesota

Wisconsin hosts the Gophers to end the football regular season. That is the case in basketball, as well. Same result.

Prediction: Badgers 83, Gophers 63