The Wisconsin Badgers will tip off at No. 15 Purdue at 6:30 pm CST in their regular season finale. By the game's end , Wisconsin will know whether they will receive the third or sixth seed in the Big Ten Tournament.
For a quick read before the game, here are 3 keys to victory:
1. Limit Hammons' effectiveness
In the teams' first match up this season, a 61-55 Purdue win in Madison on December 24, the Boilermakers center had his way. Hammons scored 24 points, seven rebounds and two blocks. In addition to averaging 14.8 points on 59 perecent shooting and 7.8 boards per game, Hammons is one of the top defenders in the Big Ten. He is tied for the conference in blocks (2.6 per game) and in defensive rating (88.3).
The Badgers will be better off forcing Hammons' supporting cast--albeit deep--to beat them with mid-range play. Along with Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Haas, Purdue's frontcourt has the ability to bully opponents in the paint. Ethan Happ, Vitto Brown and company will have to be strong on the defensive end--and once they force a miss, rebounding will play a pivotal role, as well.
2. Win the turnover margin
For as strong as Purdue is defensively (17th defensively in adjusted efficiency), they struggle in forcing turnovers.
On the offensive end, the Boilermakers aren't entirely strong, either.
In the Big Ten, Purdue ranks fourth-worst in offensive turnover percentage, while having the lowest turnover percentage on defense. If the Badgers can exploit this, they will be able to steal a few possession in a difficult road environment.
Stealing possessions is quite a good way to steal a win. But, as we saw in Madison in December when Wisconsin had seven turnovers to Purdue's 16, winning the turnover margin doesn't guarantee a win.
3. Keep Purdue's bench in check
Between Haas, Johnny Hill, Dakota Matthias and Ryan Cline, the Boilermakers are able to run effectively nine-deep in their rotation. That quartet combined for 32 points in Purdue's win over Nebraska last week and 30 points the game before in a win over Maryland.
On any night, one of those four players can make a contribution that pushes Purdue over the top. Wisconsin received a strong game from Alex Illikainen when the teams faced earlier and could use both him and Charlie Thomas in containing the Boilers' bigs.