A matinee Border Battle is a great way to start a loaded Sunday of sports. The No. 11 Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team (16-3 overall, 7-2) welcome ancient rival the Minnesota Golden Gophers (11-6 overall, 2-6 Big Ten) to the Kohl Center for another edition of a rivalry that has been played over 200 times.
The Badgers have won eight of their last 10 games, most recently beating Nebraska on the road, while the Gophers enter the game losers of five of their last six games, only beating Rutgers in the past month.
The Gophers will look very different from the team that played Wisconsin last year. They have a first year coach, Ben Johnson, and 10 new faces on a completely overhauled roster. Minnesota relies heavily on their starting lineup, with four players seeing more than 78% of the minutes per game. Senior point guard Payton Willis, a former Gopher who is now a Gopher again, plays 90.1% of the team’s minutes and, despite limited rest, plays quite well.
Willis is shooting 41.3% from deep on high volume while taking care of the ball and distributing it at a solid clip too. Big man Jamison Battle, a transfer from George Washington who is from the Twin Cities, is leading the team in scoring with 17.8 ppg and is second with 6.3 rpg.
Much like their last game against Nebraska, this is a game that the Badgers should dominate on the boards. Ben Carlson has been gaining confidence all season and he pulled down five rebounds (four on the offensive side) against the Huskers. One of four Minnesota natives on UW’s roster, hopefully Carlson shows out again against his home-state school.
Good to see Ben Carlson playing with more confidence. UW going to need him down the stretch.— Jim Polzin (@JimPolzinWSJ) January 27, 2022
Minnesota was supposed to be bad this year, and they definitely aren’t good, but they have shown a ton of fight and have upset teams like Michigan and Mississippi State on the road already. Especially in a rivalry game like this, they are not to be taken lightly despite their record.
How to watch/listen
TV: BTN, 12:00 p.m. CT, Brandon Gaudin, Jess Settles
Streaming: FOX Sports App; FOX Sports
Radio/Satellite: WIBA 1310 AM, Sirius/XM 195; Matt Lepay, Mike Lucas
Live stats: Here!
Arena: Kohl Center, Madison, Wis.
DraftKings Line: Wisconsin -11.5
(Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.)
KenPom Wisconsin win percentage: 80%
Torvik Wisconsin win percentage: 84%
Fun facts (according to the media guides)
- Wisconsin and Minnesota will be playing for the 208th time on Sunday, making the Gophers the most-played opponent in UW history.
- Minnesota leads the all-time series, 104-103, but the Badgers hold a 66-34 edge in Madison.
- Wisconsin is 18-2 all-time against Minnesota at the Kohl Center with the Gophers lone wins coming in 2009 (in overtime) and 2019.
- UW is 7-2 vs. Minnesota under head coach Greg Gard.
- Wisconsin’s roster features four players from Minnesota: Brad Davison (Osseo), Tyler Wahl (Lakeville), Ben Carlson (Woodbury) and Steven Crowl (Eagan).
- The Gophers have one Wisconsin native on their roster: Luke Loewe (Fod du Lac) who transferred from William & Mary.
- The Badgers have the second most Quad 1 wins in the nation (six) behind only Baylor (seven).
- The Badgers are 9-1 in games decided by six or fewer points.
- Wisconsin is averaging 72.7 ppg, which would be the team’s highest mark since 2013-14.
- Johnny Davis is still the only Big Ten player to lead his team in ppg (21.7), rpg (7.5) and apg (2.6).
- Senior Brad Davison is having the best year of his career, ranking No. 15 in the Big Ten scoring 15.7 ppg. He is second in the B1G shooting 45.8% on 3FGs during conference play.
- Davison is one of just four players in Wisconsin history to accumulate 1,500 points, 500 rebounds and 300 assists, joining Michael Finley, Nigel Hayes and Ethan Happ.
Before he became Wisconsin's new "3-Point King," @braddavi34 caught up with @BronsonK_24 for an impromptu passing of the crown— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) January 29, 2022
"He had a heckuva career, so it's cool to be mentioned with a guy like that"
- If Davison starts the game against Minnesota he will move into a tie, with Josh Gasser, for most games started in a UW uniform. If he plays at all, he’ll move into a tie for second most games played ever.
- Wisconsin ranks second in the NCAA in fewest turnovers per game (8.5). They are also first in the nation in turnover percentage (12.6%).
- The Gophers are ninth in the nation in turnover percentage at 14.1 and have turned the ball over the second fewest times in the country with a mere 159.
- Over the last four games, the Badgers are shooting 45.0% from 3-point range, hitting 41-of-91 from deep. On the season, UW is shooting 32.8% from 3-point range.
- According to KenPom, the Badgers have an adjusted offensive tempo of 66.7 possessions per game, which would be the team’s fastest mark since he began tracking the stat in the 2001-02 season.
- To put it another way, 24.1% of UW’s initial shot attempts (excluding FGAs off O-Reb.) have come in the first 10 seconds of the shot clock, the team’s highest mark in at least 10 years.
- Minnesota has 10 newcomers to the Golden Gopher roster, however some with multiple years of collegiate basketball experience. Both Luke Loewe and Eylijah Stephens played four years of collegiate ball at William & Mary and Lafayette. Payton Willis returns to the Gophers after a year at College of Charleston. In addition, Jamison Battle saw two years of action at George Washington before coming to Minnesota.
- Battle is ranked sixth in Big Ten overall scoring and eighth against Big Ten opponents (17.3).
- New head coach Ben Johnson, 41, is also the youngest head coach in the Big Ten. Micah Shrewsberry at Penn State is the second-youngest at 45. Johnson is a Minnesota alum AND a Minneapolis native.
- 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
- Payton Willis, 6-foot-4, senior, guard, No. 0
- Eric Curry, 6-foot-9, redshirt senior forward, No. 1
- Jamison Battle, 6-foot-7, sophomore, forward, No. 10
- Luke Loewe, 6-foot-4, senior, guard, No. 12
- E.J. Stephens, 6-foot-3, senior, guard, No. 20