The No. 21 Wisconsin Badgers (15-6 overall, 9-5 Big Ten) men’s basketball team is back in action on Valentine’s Day, welcoming the No. 3 Michigan Wolverines (13-1 overall, 8-1 Big Ten) to the Kohl Center for a top-25 Big Ten battle. The Badgers will be trying to string together two straight wins for the first time in a month as they have alternated wins and losses over their past six games.
Michigan, on the other hand, hasn’t played in over three weeks due to an athletic department wide COVID-19 shutdown, mandated by the state of Michigan. On Saturday, Jan. 23, Michigan Athletics followed a Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) recommendation to pause athletic activities in all sports, including games, team and individual training sessions due to a positive test for a COVID-19 variant in the athletic department.
The Wolverines have postponed games with Northwestern, Penn State, Michigan State, Illinois and Indiana to make up over the rest of the season. As we recently saw with Nebraska being in the midst of playing five games in nine days, the Wolverines could be in for a pretty jam-packed schedule moving forward.
A team coming off of a Covid pause has an additional 2.3 point disadvantage on average so far this season, in a normal tempo game.— Evan Miyakawa (@evanmiya) January 29, 2021
The longer the pause, the greater the disadvantage.
14 day pause is worth about a 0.5 point disadvantage.
21 day: 2.3 points
28 day: 4.0 points pic.twitter.com/eU72XmuWqq
Hopefully you’ve blocked most of the first game against Michigan from you memory but if you’ll indulge me in a bit of “hate remembering” I will remind you of what happened. The Badgers got their doors blown off 77-54 and, to be quite honest, it wasn’t even that close. Over the middle 20 minutes of the game, Michigan outscored Wisconsin 51-12 and held the Badgers to a mere three points in the first seven minutes of the second half to put the game completely out of reach.
Michigan had four players in double figures and Chaundee Brown played tight defense. As a team they shot 9-of-16 from deep, outrebounded the Badgers by 10 and had nine blocked shots (and six steals). It was a complete and total evisceration.
Playing at the Kohl Center this time should be helpful for UW, as should the fact that the Wolverines might not be in “game shape” right away after their three week pause. Will it be enough for the Badgers to notch their best win of the season? Wisconsin’s shooting will have to drastically improve, they’ve had an eFG% over 50 in only two of their last 10 games and most recently shot 20-of-62, IN A WIN, against Nebraska.
This is a big game...let’s not get embarrassed!
How to watch/listen
TV: CBS, 12:00 p.m., CT, Kevin Harlan, Bill Raftery
Streaming: CBS Sports App
Radio/Satellite: 1310 AM, Sirius/XM 84; Matt Lepay, Mike Lucas
Live stats: Here!
Arena: Kohl Center
Line: Wisconsin -1 (I’ve also seen it as Wisconsin +1, so who knows?)
KenPom Wisconsin win percentage: 47%
Fun facts (according to the media guides)
- Dating back to the 2018-19 season, UW has won it’s last eight rematch games against a team it lost to earlier in the same season.
- Wisconsin has not been swept in a regular-season series since 2017- 18. UW has only been swept three times in six seasons under head coach Greg Gard.
- The Wolverines lead the all-time series, 93-76, but the Badgers own a 49-34 advantage for games played in Madison. UW is 14-2 at home vs. Michigan since 2000.
- Michigan won this season’s first meeting, 77-54, the most lopsided decision in the series since Wisconsin tallied a 31-point win (73-42) in 2003.
- Wisconsin is looking for Big Ten win number 10, which would give it double-digit wins for the 18th time in the last 20 years. No other Big Ten team can make that claim.
- UW has finished top four in the Big Ten standings in 18 of the last 19 seasons.
- Wisconsin will finish the year with five of its final six games scheduled against teams currently ranked in the AP Top 25.
- Wisconsin leads the nation averaging only 9.2 turnovers per game.
- The Badgers lead the Big Ten allowing only 62.4 ppg this season and rank No. 2 in FG% defense (40.8%).
- Freshman Jonathan Davis has led the team in scoring in two of the last three games, averaging 11.3 ppg, shooting 65% FG (13-20) and 75% 3FG (6-8) during that stretch.
- Senior D’Mitrik Trice has scored 28 and 20 points in his last two games vs. Michigan, going 9-for-13 from deep. Overall, he’s averaging 10.7 ppg and shooting 46.4% (13-28) on 3FGs in seven career meetings with the Wolverines.
- With 221 career 3-pointers, Trice now ranks No. 4 in school history. He needs just five more made threes to crack UW’s all-time top three.
- Trice ranks No. 5 with 386 assists, needing just two more to crack UW’s all-time top-four.
- In two games vs. Michigan as a member of the Badgers, Micah Potter is averaging 15.0 ppg and 6.5 rpg, going 6-15 (40%) from 3-point range.
- A five-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week, Hunter Dickinson leads U-M in scoring (15.1), rebounding (7.2). With the national minimum of 5.0 FGM, Dickinson leads the Big Ten and is fourth nationally with his 68.8% (86-for-125) field goal percentage.
- Mike Smith leads the Big Ten with 5.6 assists per game, which is No. 31 nationally. He leads the conference thanks in part to dishing six plus assists in seven of his last eight games, which included a career-best 10 at Minnesota.
- Michigan leads the Big Ten shooting 50.9% from the field, which is No. 7 nationally.
- 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
- Brad Davison, 6-foot-4, senior, guard, No. 34
- Nate Reuvers, 6-foot-11, senior, forward, No. 35
- Hunter Dickinson, 7-foot-1, freshman, center, No. 1
- Isaiah Livers, 6-foot-7, senior, forward, No. 2
- Mike Smith, 5-foot-11, senior, guard, No. 12
- Franz Wagner, 6-foot-9, sophomore, forward, No. 21
- Eli Brooks, 6-foot-1, senior, guard, No. 55