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

The Badgers travel to East Lansing looking for revenge against the Spartans.

NCAA Basketball: Michigan State at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 14 Wisconsin Badgers (18-4 overall, 9-3 Big Ten) men’s basketball team has their second return leg of the season on Tuesday night when they travel to East Lansing, Mich. to take on the No. 17 Michigan State Spartans (17-5 overall, 8-3 Big Ten). On Jan. 21, the Spartans beat the Badgers at the Kohl Center by 12 in a game that UW forward Tyler Wahl missed due to an ankle injury.

Since beating UW, the Spartans are 2-2 and are coming off an absolute shellacking at the hands of Home Rutgers (a completely different team than Road Rutgers, mind you) on Saturday afternoon. This is now the second straight game where Sparty is coming off of an embarrassing loss the game before playing Wisconsin so it’ll be interesting to see how they bounce back this time.

The Badgers are 3-1 since losing to Michigan State but that has been against, admittedly, weaker conference competition (Nebraska, Minnesota, Penn State) while the one loss came against the only comparably talented team, Illinois.

MSU’s bench had a massive showing against the Badgers last time with backup guard AJ Hoggard scoring 12 and dishing out eight assists and big man Malik Hall dropping 14 while grabbing eight rebounds (four offensive) and blocking two shots. Without Wahl in the lineup, Ben Carlson and Carter Gilmore were unable to provide anything close to Wahl’s offensive production, not to mention the clear downgrade on defense, and MSU feasted.

Speaking of defense, that Badgers did not play it very well in the first matchup between these two teams. Wahl will definitely help with that, but MSU was able to get out and run often against UW and the Badgers gave up 21 transition points to them. The Spartans also shot 17 more free throws than the Badgers did, scoring 12 more points which just so happened to be the difference in the final score.

Johnny Davis is coming off of the worst game of his season and is mired in a bit of a slump over the past few weeks. Since the last MSU game, Davis has struggled shooting the ball. In those five games he is, according to Bart Torvik’s data:

  • 3-of-13 from three (23.1%)
  • 8-of-40 on mid-range shots (20%)
  • 16-of-25 on shots at the rim (64%)
  • 24-of-65 on two-point shots overall (36.9%)
  • 36.2% eFG

His shooting at the rim is actually a little bit better than his season average, but everything else is considerably lower. On the year he’s shooting 33.7% from deep, 44.6% on two pointers overall and his eFG% is at 46. Every player goes through a slump during the season, and the end of January/beginning of February is kind of the “dog days” of the college basketball schedule so it makes sense that Davis might struggle now.

The game against Penn State was painful to watch all around, but Davis’ offensive performance in particular was brutal. Hopefully that was the low point of his slump and he can turn it around against a Michigan State team that he scored 25 points against in their first meeting.

UW won their last time in East Lansing (their first time since 2004) but usually do not do so well at Breslin (15-50 overall) so this game is going to be a tough one. Despite having Wahl back, I think being on the road makes this an unlikely win for the Badgers. I hope to be proven wrong in a few hours!

How to watch/listen

TV: BTN, 6:00 p.m. CT, Brandon Gaudin, Stephen Bardo

Streaming: FOX Sports App; FOX Sports

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

Live stats: Here!

Arena: Breslin Center, East Lansing, Mich.

DraftKings Line: Wisconsin +4.5
(Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See for details.)

KenPom Wisconsin win percentage: 35%
Torvik Wisconsin win percentage: 36%

Fun facts (according to the media guides)

  • Tuesday’s game will mark the No. 151 meeting between Wisconsin and Michigan State, with the series dating back to 1922.
  • MSU leads the all-time series, 84-66.
  • Since 2001-02, when Greg Gard and Bo Ryan arrived in Madison, MSU only leads 21-19.
  • Tom Izzo is 33-22 in his career against Wisconsin.
  • Tuesday will mark the meeting No. 47 between Wisconsin and Michigan State since 2000, marking the Badgers’ most-played opponent in that span (Illinois is next at 43 meetings).
  • UW and MSU have met in the postseason 10 times over that span, including the 2000 Final Four and nine meetings in the Big Ten Tournament.
  • The Spartans are 50-15 against UW in East Lansing, the Badgers won in their most recent trip to the Breslin Center.
  • Tuesday marks the 14th time in the last 28 meetings featuring both in the AP Top-25.
  • Wisconsin’s eight wins away from home (five road, three neutral) are the most among Big Ten teams and trail only USC (10) and Auburn (nine) for most among major conference teams.
  • In eight career games vs. Michigan State, Brad Davison is averaging 12.8 ppg, including 22 points in this season’s earlier meeting. He is also averaging 3.3 rpg and 3.3 spg.
  • The Badgers are 11-1 in games decided by six or fewer points - most “close” wins in Div. 1. The are ranked No. 3 in KenPom’s Luck rating.
  • Junior Tyler Wahl is averaging 14.3 ppg and 7.0 rpg over UW’s last seven games. He is shooting 57.1% (40-70) from the field over that stretch.
  • Sophomore Steven Crowl has made a big jump, averaging 9.1 ppg and 4.4 rpg. He had a total of eight points and nine rebounds last season. UW is 10-0 when Crowl hits double figures scoring.
  • MSU is averaging 78.3 ppg and shooting 48.4% FG at the Breslin Center this season.
  • Freshman guard Max Christie is tied for second on the team with 10.0 points and has been named Big Ten Freshman of the Week five times.
  • Marcus Bingham, Jr. has 55 blocked shots this year, 2.6 per game, which ranks third in the Big Ten Conference and is No. 19 in the country.
  • One of the keys for Michigan State’s success this season has been the play of its bench, which is averaging 26.0 points, 16.3 rebounds and 6.9 assists while shooting 48.9 percent from the floor.

Potential Starters


  • 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

Michigan State

  • Tyson Walker, 6-foot, junior, guard, No. 2
  • Max Christie, 6-foot-6, freshman, guard, No. 5
  • Joey Hauser, 6-foot-9, super senior, forward, No. 10
  • Marcus Bingham, Jr., 7-foot, senior, forward, No. 30
  • Gabe Brown, 6-foot-8, senior, forward, No. 44