Disclaimer: This article has been written and submitted by Robaue17, who will help cover Badgers basketball.
Coming off a difficult loss to Nebraska, the Wisconsin Badgers (16-5, 8-2) have a very tough test against the Purdue Boilermakers (20-2, 9-2). This game is almost as massive as Zach Edey, Purdue’s star player (He’s 7-4, 300lbs. That’s just not fair.).
With both teams entering this game with two losses in conference play, it is entirely possible that the winner of this game wins the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament.
Let’s take a look at each team, and what they bring to the table in this game.
Why Wisconsin should win this game
This is a tough one. If you look across the stats of each team, you’re not going to walk away expecting Wisconsin to win this game. Purdue averages more points, rebounds, and assists. They average fewer fouls, shoot better from the field and from 3pt range, and block nearly 2.5 times as many shots as we do.
At this point you’re probably wondering, “but Robert, this portion is supposed to be about Wisconsin. Why are you only saying all of the ways Purdue is better than us?”, and you’d be right to ask that question. I don’t think this game is hopeless. In fact, we MIGHT actually have a chance here. But, it all comes down to two things in my mind:
1) Can we keep Purdue from getting the ball into Edey’s hands? Edey is a force of nature. If he catches the ball on the low block, you might as well walk away. It’s all the same to him.
2) Can AJ Storr and Max Klesmit keep our offense afloat? We are at our best when Storr and Klesmit are at theirs. To keep up with the number one offense in the Big Ten, these two wings are going to have to carry us.
Why Edey... I mean Purdue should win this game
As I already mentioned above, Purdue is good at everything. The only major categories Wisconsin is better than them in is free throw percentage and turnovers. Purdue isn’t one-dimensional, either.
Edey is all-powerful, sure, but they have some quality players around him as well. Lance Jones, Braden Smith, and Fletcher Loyer are all averaging at least 11 points, while shooting at least 36 percent from 3. Smith is averaging 7.5 assists per game. Purdue has 4 OTHER PLAYERS shooting above 40 percent from 3.
They’re a good team, with good shooters, and the greatest gravitational pull in College Basketball.
X-Factor: Fouls and Turnovers
I’m going to cheat a bit and say two: Fouls and Turnovers.
Wisconsin was CRUISING past Nebraska. Then, they got into foul trouble and could’nt keep possession of the ball. Purdue lost to Nebraska when they fouled too much and kept turning the ball over. Kinda seems like more than a coincidence, right?
Obviously, we all know that Edey is always an X-Factor. But, if Wisconsin can cut down on fouls and turnovers while elevating the number of free throws and takeaways, this game is winnable.
Final Prediction: 81-75 Purdue