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Wisconsin men’s basketball vs Minnesota Golden Gophers Preview

The Badgers will look to extend their five-game winning streak as they resume conference play.

After a 76-66 victory over the Western Michigan Broncos last Friday, the Wisconsin Badgers are beginning their week with a conference matchup against the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Tuesday night at the Kohl Center.

The Badgers, who came in at No. 14 in the most recent AP Poll, are 2-0 in conference play, with wins over then-No. 13 Maryland and Iowa, but haven’t faced a Big 10 opponent in three weeks.

That changes for the remainder of the season, as Wisconsin has only conference opponents lined up for the remainder of the season, whom they’ll look to continue their increased momentum against.

Here’s what you need to know about the Badgers’ opponent on Tuesday.

Opponent Preview

The Minnesota Golden Gophers come into the matchup sitting at 6-6, while going 0-2 in conference play with losses to Purdue and Michigan thus far.

The Golden Gophers haven’t necessarily had a strong offensive performance thus far, failing to eclipse 75 points in a game this season.

A reason for that? They’ve struggled to efficiently score, shooting just 42.6% from the field and 32.9% from three, while converting just 58.7% of their free throws.

The Gophers are led by 6’11, 235-pound sophomore Dawson Garcia, who’s averaging a team-high 14.3 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, while knocking down 46% of his field goals.

However, the player to watch for Minnesota is guard Ta’lon Cooper, who currently leads the team with 6.9 assists per game, while knocking down over 50% of his three-pointers.

Cooper’s two best games came when the Gophers faced Michigan and Purdue, their two toughest opponents of the season, and should be a player to monitor as an impact player in tonight’s matchup.

What to Watch for Wisconsin

The Badgers enter the game as one of the hottest teams in basketball with a five-game win streak, rising in several consecutive weeks on the AP Poll.

The big men: Both teams share vital members of their core in their frontcourt, as Minnesota’s leading scorer, Dawson Garcia, stands at 6’11, 230 pounds.

Consequently, the Badgers have two key big men in their frontcourt: Tyler Wahl and Steven Crowl, who both have showcased the ability to be a focal part of the offense.

It’s likely, given the struggles from the perimeter for the Gophers, that the game could be decided by the matchup between the bigs, especially when it comes to rebounding.

Record against Minnesota: The Minnesota Golden Gophers have faced a recent slide after a 4-1 start to the season, and there’s a reason for it when diving into the numbers.

Despite their 6-6 record, the Gophers are 1-5 against teams with a winning record, with their lone win coming over Cal Baptist.

Meanwhile, the Badgers are 5-2 against teams with winning records, stacking up victories over USC, Dayton, and Maryland on their resume, while losing to No. 3 Kansas by one point and Wake Forest by three.

With the small sample size, it’s clear the Badgers are more experienced and fare better against stronger opponents, giving them that advantage heading into tonight’s matchup.