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

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The Badgers hit the road to take on the scrappy Wildcats in Evanston.

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

The No. 8 Wisconsin Badgers (14-2 overall, 5-1 Big Ten) men’s basketball team hit the road on Tuesday night to take on the Northwestern Wildcats (9-6 overall, 2-4 Big Ten) at Welsh-Ryan Arena. UW is riding a six-game winning streak while the ‘Cats are coming off their biggest win of the season, upsetting a top-10 Michigan State team at the Breslin Center.

Unlike in football, Northwestern basketball has not been quite a thorn in Wisconsin’s side recently. The Badgers have win six in a row against NU, including three on the road. However, this Northwestern team has been giving good teams fits all year and finally broke through against the Spartans over the weekend.

An interesting storyline to watch ahead of the game is whether or not star big man Pete Nance will be able to play. He missed the game against Michigan State with an ankle injury and, as of posting, it is unclear if he’ll be able to go against Wisconsin.

Nance leads the Wildcats at 17.1 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. He is one of just two players in the nation to be averaging 17+ points per game, seven rebounds per game while shooting at least 45% from three-point range (also Justin Bean, Utah State). In the 13 games he has played in this season, he has scored double-figures in every one.

Much like the Badgers, the Wildcats do not turn the ball over much on offense (Wisconsin No. 1 in the nation in TO%, Northwestern is No. 4) despite playing at a quicker pace. The ‘Cats move the ball well on offense, recording assists on almost 65% of their made baskets, although Nance is a large reason for that and if he’s out their ball movement may take a hit.

Point guard Boo Buie is electric with the ball and will most likely wow you with a seeing-eye assist on one possession before turning it over wildly on the next. Chase Audige, and Buie to a lesser extent, are the two guys Wisconsin wants shooting the three, while Nance, if he plays, and Ty Berry need to have a Wisconsin hand in their face at all times on the perimeter.

If Nance doesn’t play, this seems like a game where Johnny Davis and Tyler Wahl will need to attack the rim over and over, because the ‘Cats don’t really have a rim protector besides Nance. The ‘Cats also allow an above average number of threes to be attempted, so Brad Davison will probably be letting it fly early and often. Despite Wahl making two three pointers last game, I would implore him to think of that as an aberration and not the start of a hot streak from deep.

I think a lot of how this game will go depends on whether or not Nance plays. If he does, it will be close. If he doesn’t, it’ll probably still be close but the Badgers should pull away late for the win.

How to watch/listen

TV: BTN, 8:00 p.m. CT, Dave Revsine, Stephen Bardo

Streaming: FOX Sports App; FOX Sports

Radio/Satellite: WIBA 1310 AM, Sirius/XM 195; Matt Lepay, Mike Lucas

Live stats: Here!

Arena: Welsh-Ryan Arena, Evanston, Ill.

DraftKings Line: Wisconsin -3.5
(Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.)

KenPom Wisconsin win percentage: 50%
Torvik Wisconsin win percentage: 53%

Fun facts (according to the media guides)

  • At 14-2, Wisconsin is off to its best start under Greg Gard and best since 2014-15.
  • With a 5-1 record, Wisconsin has the most Quad 1 wins in the NCAA. UW also owns the most Quad 1 & 2 wins in the nation (nine).
  • The Badgers also have nine wins over KenPom top-100 teams, tied for most in the nation.
  • The Badgers have scored at least 70 points in each of their six straight wins and are averaging 72.1 ppg, which would be the team’s second-highest mark of the Gard era. UW is also playing at its fastest pace in over 20 years.
  • Tuesday’s game marks the 187th meeting between Wisconsin and Northwestern in a series that dates back to 1910. UW leads the all-time series between the schools, 121-65.
  • The Badgers have won six straight vs. NU, including a sweep of the season series last year. The Badgers won, 68-52, in Madison on 1/20/21 and 68-51 in Evanston on 2/18/21.
  • Wisconsin owns a 43-39 edge over Northwestern in games played in Evanston and has won eight of their last nine at NU.
  • Dating back to 1997, UW has held the Wildcats to 70 or fewer points for 43 consecutive games.
  • Since 2011, 12 of UW’s last 14 victories over NU have come by at least 15 points.
  • Wisconsin has three Illinois natives on its roster including junior Carter Higginbottom (Chicago), sophomore Justin Taphorn (Pekin) and freshman Chris Hodges (Schaumburg).
  • Taphorn’s older brother, Nate, played in 109 games and scored 436 points for Northwestern from 2014-17.
  • Johnny Davis is the only Big Ten player to lead his team in points (21.7 ppg), rebounds (7.5 rpg) and assists (2.6 apg).
  • Senior Brad Davison is having the best year of his career, ranking No. 16 in the Big Ten scoring 15.2 ppg. He is also third in the conference shooting 85.7% at the FT line and sixth with a career-best 2.4 triples per game.
  • Junior Tyler Wahl has scored double figures five of the last six games (three straight). That includes back-to-back 20+ point performances, one being a career-high 21 points to lead UW to a win at Maryland.
  • Wahl ranks third on the team in scoring (10.8 ppg) and second in rebounding (5.4 rpg). He leads the team shooting 52.4% FG.
  • With 18 blocks this season, Wahl leads UW and ranks No. 8 in the B1G averaging 1.1 bpg.
  • This marks the second-consecutive AP Top-10 opponent the Wildcats have faced and with No. 4 Purdue up next on the schedule after the Badgers, the Wildcats will play three straight AP top-10 teams for the first time in program history.
  • The last time the ‘Cats knocked off ranked opponents in back-to-back games was in 2009, when they defeated No. 18 Minnesota, 74-65, on Jan. 18, followed by a 70-63 win at No. 7 Michigan State on Jan. 21.
  • Northwestern’s last win over a ranked Wisconsin team was on Feb. 12, 2017, when the Wildcats took down the No. 7-ranked Badgers, 66-59, at the Kohl Center amid their historic 2016-17 campaign.
  • Tuesday’s game will mark the first time in 682 days in which Northwestern students will be in Welsh-Ryan Arena for a Big Ten matchup.
  • Pete Nance leads the team with 17.1 ppg (No. 7 in conference), while Boo Buie ranks behind him at No. 17 with 14.6 ppg.
  • Buie currently leads the Big Ten and ranks No. 21 in the nation averaging 5.7 assists per game, he also ranks fourth in the conference with a 2.58 assist-to-turnover-ratio.
  • The ‘Cats have now combined for 36 offensive rebounds in their last two games, the most in a two-game stretch under Chris Collins and since at least 2010.
  • The ‘Cats are holding opponents to a .394 shooting percentage this season, the fourth-lowest mark in the conference and 32nd-lowest in the nation.

Potential Starters

Wisconsin

  • Johnny Davis, 6-foot-5, sophomore, guard, No. 1
  • Tyler Wahl, 6-foot-9, junior, forward, No. 5
  • Steven Crowl, 7-foot, sophomore, forward, No. 22
  • Chucky Hepburn, 6-foot-2, freshman, guard, No. 23
  • Brad Davison, 6-foot-4, super senior, guard, No. 34

Northwestern

  • Boo Buie, 6-foot-2, junior, guard, No. 0
  • Chase Audige, 6-foot-4, redshirt junior, guard, No. 1
  • Ty Berry, 6-foot-3, sophomore, guard, No. 3
  • Pete Nance, 6-foot-10, senior, forward, No. 22
  • Robbie Beran, 6-foot-9, junior, forward, No. 31