The fun thing about college basketball season is that there are so many games you can’t dwell on one for too long. While the discourse surrounding the end of the Wisconsin/Michigan game seemed to go on for months, here we are just three days later ready for a new matchup.
The No. 13 Wisconsin Badgers (21-5 overall, 12-4 Big Ten) head into enemy territory on Wednesday night when they take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers (13-12 overall, 4-12 Big Ten) at Williams Arena in the resumption of UW’s most played men’s basketball rivalry.
Badgers. Gophers. Border Rivalry. pic.twitter.com/osDJK5y1I6— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) February 23, 2022
The Badgers have won four of their last five games, including two in a row, in their quest for a Big Ten regular season title (they are currently a half game out of first place) while the Gophers won their last game, but have lost seven of their last 10.
There are a couple of roster/lineup notes for each team that are important to discuss: Wisconsin will be without reserve guard Jahcobi Neath, who is suspended for one game due to his role in The Incident; they may also be without reserve guard Lorne Bowman II, who missed the Michigan with a non-COVID illness. Minnesota might be without starting guard Payton Willis for the second straight game, due to COVID protocols, but we’ll be updated on his status closer to tip-time.
“Talking to him he’s feeling pretty good. It’s more of an energy and fatigue thing,” Minnesota head coach Ben Johnson said Tuesday on his radio show. “There’s a chance he could go Wednesday. If he feels right and he’s cleared but we won’t know that until Wednesday.”
In the first matchup between these two teams, won 66-60 by the Badgers, both bench units COMBINED for 11 points, so Willis being out will have a much larger effect on the game than Neath and/or Bowman missing out.
Minnesota is a good three point shooting team. Four of their five starters are shooting over 35% from deep on the season, with Willis leading the way at 42%. The Badgers have been good at denying three point attempts this year, and held UM to only 18 attempts in their first meeting, which is below their season average.
I’d look for another big Johnny Davis performance and for ultimate heel Brad Davison to have a decent shooting night in his farewell game at The Barn to lead Wisconsin to a victory. How close the game is will hinge on whether or not Willis plays to be honest. If he is good to go, it should be another close game. If he isn’t, this one could get out of hand in the second half.
How to watch/listen
TV: BTN, 8:00 p.m. CT, Cory Provus, Robbie Hummel
Streaming: FOX Sports App; FOX streaming
Radio/Satellite: WIBA 1310 AM, Sirius/XM 195; Matt Lepay, Mike Lucas
Live stats: Here!
Arena: Williams Arena, Minneapolis, Minn.
DraftKings Line: Wisconsin -5
(Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.)
KenPom Wisconsin win percentage: 61%
Torvik Wisconsin win percentage: 64%
Fun facts (according to the media guides)
- Wisconsin and Minnesota will be playing for the 209th time (this includes vacated games) on Wednesday, making the Gophers the most-played opponent in UW history.
- The all-time series is exactly deadlocked at 104-104, marking the first time since 1972, when the teams were knotted at 59-59.
- UW is on a three-game winning streak in the series, including beating the Gophers at the Kohl Center earlier this year.
Even if Wisconsin loses its last four games, the #Badgers are guaranteed to finish above Minnesota in the Big Ten. That shouldn't come as a surprise. It's now happened for 24 consecutive seasons.— Benjamin Worgull (@TheBadgerNation) February 22, 2022
- The football series between Wisconsin and Minnesota is also exactly tied at 62-62-8 all-time.
- Wisconsin has won four of its last five trips to Williams Arena, including three of four contests 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: Luke Loewe (Fond du Lac) who transferred in from William & Mary before this season.
- Davison is shooting 39.4% (13-33) from 3-point range and 85.0% (17-20) at the FT line against the Gophers. He is averaging 10.9 ppg, 3.9 rpg and 2.1 apg in his career against Minnesota.
- Wisconsin’s seven Quad 1 wins are fourth-most in the country, and the Badgers’ 13 Quad 1 & 2 wins, trails on Kansas and Baylor.
- Wisconsin has reached the 20-win mark for the 17th time in the last 20 seasons, including four times under Gard.
- The Badgers are 12-1 in games decided by six or fewer points - most “close” wins in Division 1.
- UW owns the most true road wins (seven) and most wins away from home (10) among all Big Ten teams.
- Wisconsin leads the NCAA averaging just 8.5 turnovers per game.
- Johnny Davis is playing like an All-American and is the only Big Ten player to lead his team in ppg (20.9), rpg (8.3) and apg (2.3).
Johnny Davis.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) February 20, 2022
Still my Player of the Year frontrunner.
- Davison leads the B1G shooting 36.0% 3FG in conference play.
- Chucky Hepburn leads all Big Ten freshman averaging 2.2 apg and his 1.8 assist-to-turnover ratio is tops among rookies.
- Since 2001-02 when Bo Ryan and Greg Gard arrived in Madison, UW has the most Big Ten wins and best win pct. at 253-117 (.683).
- Jamison Battle reached his 1,000th collegiate point with his first made field goal of the Penn State game (2/17). Battle earned over 1,000 career points spanning over two and a half collegiate seasons when he scored 636 points at George Washington before transferring to Minnesota.
- Loewe is sitting at 992 career points. The fifth-year senior held 769 career points with William & Mary and now has 233 as a Golden Gopher.
- Minnesota ranks seventh nationally in fewest fouls (and first in the Big Ten) with 340.
- Gopher men’s basketball will recognize the 1982 Big Ten Championship team in honor of the 40th anniversary of their victory. The group will be honored during the under-4 media timeout of the first half.
- 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, super 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
Status Update at Minnesota:— brandon harrison (@brandonharrison) February 23, 2022
Lorne Bowman II is not available tonight for Wisconsin — illness (non-COVID)