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Wisconsin vs. Northwestern: how to watch, game preview and open thread

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For the first time in two weeks, the Badgers are back at home. Here is everything you need to know about Wednesday night’s game against the Wildcats.

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

The No. 10 Wisconsin Badgers (11-3 overall, 5-2 Big Ten) return home for the first time since Jan. 7 and welcome the Northwestern Wildcats (6-6 overall, 3-5 Big Ten) to the Kohl Center. The ‘Cats come in on a five game losing streak while the Badgers bounced back from an embarrassing loss to Michigan with a win at Rutgers to start their weekend off right.

You may not be able to remember all the way to the day after Christmas, but Northwestern had just beaten Ohio State by one to move their record to 6-1. The Wildcats were ranked and everything seemed to be ahead of schedule for Chris Collins’ latest rebuilding effort in Evanston.

Sadly for Northwestern (lol, who cares though amirite?) the losing began in earnest as they lost to Iowa (twice), Michigan, Illinois and Ohio State. There is no shame in losing to those four teams, as they are all quite good, but none of the games were particularly close (losing to the Buckeyes by 10 was the “best” result).

So, it would appear that NU has regressed to the mean and now occupies the space we all thought they would at the beginning of the season: a feisty, yet overmatched, underdog.

Wednesday night’s matchup will feature two offenses that are quite similar statistically. Let’s take a look at the Four Factors for both teams and you’ll see what I mean.

NU Four Factors

4 Factors Offense Defense D1 Average
4 Factors Offense Defense D1 Average
eFG% 52.1 (84) 50.7 (198) 50
Turnover% 14.1 (6) 15.9 (315) 19.3
Off. Rebound% 19.6 (334) 25.3 (81) 28
FTA/FGA 32.0 (180) 32.1 (173) 32.4

UW Four Factors

4 Factors Offense Defense D1 Average
4 Factors Offense Defense D1 Average
eFG% 51.6 (100) 45.1 (21) 50
Turnover% 12.4 (2) 18.0 (241) 19.3
Off. Rebound% 23.7 (278) 24.1 (54) 28
FTA/FGA 33.0 (158) 32.1 (173 32.4

Theses are both teams that don’t turn the ball over, don’t crash the offensive glass and get to the free throw line an average amount. Northwestern actually has a better eFG% than the Badgers, mostly because they shoot way better than the Badgers do inside the arc on dunks, close twos and far twos. The key difference in this game will be how the two team play on defense.

Northwestern allows opponents to shoot plenty of three pointers and they have allowed double digit three point makes in each game of their five-game losing streak. In fact, one of the main reasons NU was able to beat Ohio State in their first game (a one-point victory) was due to the fact that the Buckeyes shot 4-of-20 from deep. The ‘Cats aren’t a big shot blocking team either, which should be a relief for the Badgers who seem hell-bent on seeing how many times their big men can get shots stuffed at the rim.

How to watch/listen

TV: BTN, 7:00 p.m., CT, Brandon Gaudin, Robbie Hummel

Streaming: FOX Sports GO

Radio/Satellite: 1310 AM, Sirius/XM 83; Matt Lepay, Mike Lucas

Live stats: Here!

Arena: Kohl Center

Line: Wisconsin

KenPom Wisconsin win percentage: 82%

Fun facts (according to the media guides)

  • Wisconsin has won 19 of the last 24 games against Northwestern (including four straight wins).
  • Wisconsin owns a 68-32 all-time home record vs. NU, including a mark of 16-3 in the Kohl Center. The first game in Kohl Center history was a 56-33 UW win over NU on Jan. 17, 1998
  • UW leads the all-time series between the schools, 119-65.
  • UW is 3-1 against AP Top-25 teams. The Badgers have six wins over teams in the KenPom top 50, the most in the country.
  • UW is 7-3 in Quad 1 and Quad 2 games this season according to the NET rankings. The Badgers’ seven Quad 1/2 wins are tied for the most in the nation.
  • Wisconsin leads the Big Ten allowing only 62.1 points per game this season, while also ranked No. 2 in field goal percentage defense.
  • The Badgers have held Northwestern to 70 or fewer points for 41 consecutive games
  • Offensively, the Badgers turn the ball over just 8.4 times per game, ranked No. 3 in the country.
  • UW is one of just six schools to rank among the nation’s top 16 for efficiency in both offense (No. 16) and defense (No. 5) according to KenPom.com. Side note, it’s kinda funny how this fun fact has kept having to lower its threshold as the Wisconsin offense struggles.
  • Senior PG D’Mitrik Trice leads the Badgers averaging 15.0 ppg and 3.6 apg.
  • UW’s starting backcourt of Trice and Davison has combined for 84 assists and only 28 TOs, playing a combined 843 minutes this season.
  • Wisconsin is 7-0 this season when senior G Brad Davison scores in double figures. When senior F Aleem Ford does this? UW is 8-0.
  • Senior big man Micah Potter leads the Badgers shooting 49.6% FG and is No. 3 at 38.5% 3FG, averaging 12.3 ppg. He also leads Wisconsin averaging 7.0 rpg.
  • Senior F Nate Reuvers is just 48 points from joining teammates Brad Davison and D’Mitrik Trice in Wisconsin’s 1,000-point club.
  • NU is one of four Big Ten teams to win multiple games at the Kohl Center since 2015-16. A win on Wednesday and NU will be the lone Big Ten team to beat Wisconsin three times at the Kohl Center during the Greg Gard era.
  • Northwestern currently leads the nation in strength of schedule, per KenPom’s adjusted efficiency margin. The ‘Cats are on a five-game losing streak, all to teams currently ranked in the top-17, with four in the top-10, of KenPom’s rankings.
  • NU’s 9.8 turnovers per game rank sixth-fewest in the nation and they won the turnover battle in four consecutive games.
  • Miller Kopp is averaging a team-leading 13.5 ppg and shooting 49.1% from the field. Kopp is also shooting 46.7% (21-of-42) from behind the arc this season which ranks seventh in the Big Ten.

Probable starters

Wisconsin

  • D’Mitrik Trice, 6-foot, redshirt senior, guard, No. 0
  • Aleem Ford, 6-foot-8, redshirt senior, forward, No. 2
  • Tyler Wahl, 6-foot-9, sophomore, forward, No. 5
  • Micah Potter, 6-foot-10, redshirt senior, center, No. 11
  • Brad Davison, 6-foot-4, senior, guard, No. 34

Northwestern

  • Boo Buie, 6-foot-2, sophomore, guard, No. 0
  • Chase Audige, 6-foot-4, redshirt sophomore, guard, No. 1
  • Miller Kopp, 6-foot-7, junior, forward, No. 10
  • Pete Nance, 6-foot-10, junior, forward, No. 22
  • Robbie Beran, 6-foot-9, sophomore, forward, No. 31