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Wisconsin vs. Penn State: how to watch, game preview and open thread

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The Badgers return home for a Saturday evening battle with PSU.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Penn State vs Wisconsin Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 11 Wisconsin Badgers (17-4 overall, 8-3 Big Ten) men’s basketball team is back in action at the Kohl Center on Saturday night, taking on the visiting Penn State Nittany Lions (9-9 overall, 4-6 Big Ten). Wisconsin returns home after a tough loss at No. 18 Illinois on Wednesday which gave the Illini possession of first place in the conference.

PSU had lost three in a row until a wild, double overtime victory against Iowa on Monday got them back on the winning path. The Lions had three players record over 40 minutes of action in that game, so they probably appreciated the lengthy time off between games.

Penn State is in their first season under new head coach Micah Shrewsberry and, while the record isn’t impressive, there have been signs of life in the team that bode well for the future. They rarely get blown out, they are trying on defense and Shrewsberry has quickly gotten the players to buy what he is selling. Not that it matters for the game against the Badgers, but PSU’s incoming recruiting class is a top-25 group and that definitely speaks highly of what Shrewsberry is doing.

While reading through PSU’s game notes, one thing stood out as to what could decide this game: the three ball. Here is what it means to the Nittany Lions:

Offensively, the Nittany Lions are shooting 36.2 percent (80-221) from deep with an average of 8.9 made threes per game in Penn State’s nine wins. Penn State is shooting 29.7 percent (62-209) from downtown with an average of 6.9 treys per game in the Nittany Lions’ nine losses.

Defensively, the Nittany Lions give up an average of 8.8 threes per game while allowing their opponents to shoot 38.2 percent (79-207) from deep in the Nittany Lions’ nine losses. Penn State has held its opponents to a 31.7 percent (64-202) clip from downtown and 7.1 made threes per game in the Nittany Lions’ nine wins.

It makes sense (like, duh, a team wins when they shoot good and the other team shoots bad) but beyond that it appears to be by far the most important factor in whether or not PSU will win or lose a game. The Badgers are coming off one of the worst three point shooting displays I can remember (3-for-24 against Illinois) and will certainly need to make more than 12.5% of their long range attempts to beat a scrappy PSU squad.

There is one Penn State player I want to highlight because, while he didn’t start last game, Sam Sessoms is an integral part to PSU’s success. He makes 43.5% of his threes, he passes the ball well and he’ll be the guy that Penn State looks to when the shot clock is winding down. I’m excited to see what Chucky Hepburn can do on defense against a player like Sessoms.

Also, John Harrar draws fouls at an obscene rate. Steven Crowl and Chris Vogt need to be careful or they will find themselves on the bench more often than not.

How to watch/listen

TV: BTN, 5:00 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: Kohl Center, Madison, Wis.

DraftKings Line: Wisconsin -8.5
(Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.)

KenPom Wisconsin win percentage: 77%
Torvik Wisconsin win percentage: 83%

Fun facts (according to the media guides)

  • Saturday’s game against the Ni‚ any Lions marks the No. 52 meeting between Wisconsin and Penn State. UW owns a 40-11 edge in the all-time series.
  • UW has won 15 of the last 16 and 28 of the last 31 meetings with PSU dating back to 2004.
  • The Badgers took two of three from the Ni‚ttany Lions last season, including a win in the 2021 Big Ten Tournament. PSU’s win in State College snapped Wisconsin’s 13-game win streak in the series. PSU earned its first win over UW since a 36-33 win (widely known as the game that perfectly encapsulates Big Ten basketball) in the 2011 Big Ten Tournament.
  • The Badgers’ 13-game win streak over PSU matched UW’s longest over a B1G opponent. UW also beat PSU 12 straight from 2004-10.
  • Wisconsin has won 20 straight home games against Penn State, including a mark of 17-0 all-time at the Kohl Center.
  • The Lions’ last win in Madison was a 78-67 win at the UW Field House on Jan. 26, 1995.
  • Badgers’ assistant coach Sharif Chambliss played three seasons at Penn State (2001-03) before transferring to UW for his senior season in 2005. Chambliss was the Nittany Lions leading scorer in both 2002 and 2003, scoring 851 points in his career in State College.
  • Wisconsin has seven Quad 1 wins this year, which is tied for the most in the country.
  • Per KenPom, Wisconsin has played the third hardest schedule in the nation this year and, per ESPN, they’ve played the second hardest schedule.
  • Johnny Davis is still the only Big Ten player to lead his team in ppg (21.4), rpg (8.3) and apg (2.5). His 21.4 ppg is the eighth best mark in the nation as well.
  • Davis has posted back-to-back 15-rebound games, becoming the first Badger to do so since 6-foot-11 center Rashard Griffith in 1995.
  • Senior Brad Davison is having the best year of his career, ranking No. 15 in the Big Ten scoring 15.2 ppg. He is second in the B1G shooting 41.9% on 3FGs during conference play.
  • Wisconsin leads the NCAA averaging just 8.3 turnovers per game, a figure that would rank No. 4 in UW history.
  • According to KenPom, the Badgers have an adjusted offensive tempo of 67.1 possessions per game, which would be the team’s fastest mark since he began tracking the stat in the 2001-02 season. It’s also almost at the national average (67.5) which, to be honest, is kinda amazing!
  • Four Nittany Lions are averaging double-digit points, led by Seth Lundy’s 13.4 ppg. Jalen Pickett (13.3 ppg) and Sam Sessoms (11.2 ppg) follow, while John Harrar is nearly averaging a double-double with 10.8 ppg and 9.6 rpg.
  • Harrar’s 9.6 rpg rank second in the Big Ten and No. 18 in the country.
  • No. 11 Wisconsin would be the highest-ranked true road win for Penn State since the Nittany Lions defeated No. 9 Michigan State 72-68 on Feb. 1, 2009.
  • Penn State is believed to be the sixth-oldest Division I team in the country this season, oldest Power 5 team, and oldest team in the Big Ten. They have zero (0) freshmen on their roster and seven transfers.

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

Penn State

  • Seth Lundy, 6-foot-6, junior, forward, No. 1
  • Myles Dread, 6-foot-4, senior, guard, No. 2
  • John Harrar, 6-foot-9, super senior, forward, No. 21
  • Jalen Pickett, 6-foot-4, senior, guard, No. 22
  • Dallion Johnson, 6-foot-3, sophomore, guard, No. 23