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Wisconsin men’s basketball vs Western Michigan: Preview and Game Thread

The Badgers returns to the Kohl Center after a two-week hiatus from basketball.

After over two weeks, Wisconsin men’s basketball is returning, as the Badgers host the Western Michigan Broncos at the Kohl Center tonight for their final game of 2022.

The Badgers, sitting at 8-2, are currently riding a six-game winning streak and have risen to No. 15 in the AP Poll, two spots higher than their last week’s ranking of No. 17, despite playing zero games during the timeframe.

Most recently, the Badgers defeated the Lehigh Mountain Hawks 78-56, but could be rusty after a two-week layoff due to their game against Grambling State being canceled on December 23rd.

Opponent Preview

The Western Michigan Broncos come into the matchup sitting at 4-8, with a number of high-scoring games, but also disappointing losses on their resume.

The Broncos are led by senior guard Lamar Norman Jr., who’s currently averaging 18.1 points per game, while shooting 43.3% from the field, 39.2% from three, and 84.4% from the line.

As of late, Norman Jr. has been on a tear, averaging 23.3 points on 46.2/41.3/91.7 splits over his past seven games, so stopping him should be Wisconsin’s main prerogative in today’s game.

Western Michigan looks to be prioritizing depth this season, as no other player for the Broncos logs over 30 minutes per game, while seven players play at least 15 minutes per game.

While they aren’t necessarily shooting the ball at an efficient level, the Broncos have shown a propensity to get hot, scoring 85 or more points in four games this season, albeit against lesser opponents.

What to Watch for Wisconsin

The Badgers enter the game as one of the hottest teams in basketball with a four-game win streak, with several of those coming within five points or less.

The big men: Wisconsin faces a Western Michigan team who doesn’t sport a single player over 6’9, which could give them an advantage, not only in the paint, but also with physicality in general.

Tyler Wahl has been Wisconsin’s leading scorer in 2022, averaging 14.5 points and 6.9 rebounds, but has encountered streaky stretches, shooting just 42% from the field, including a ghastly 22% from deep.

Steven Crowl has been a focal point as well, with the seven-footer averaging over 10 points per game.

Additionally, Wisconsin looks to run their offense through their big men, which could lead to a bigger focus inside the paint, potentially freeing up shooters on the perimeter.

Come back here later this evening for our game thread conversation in the comments!