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Badgers Basketball Preview: Nittany Lions Edition

The Basics

Where: Kohl Center in Madison, Wisconsin
When: Tuesday, January 24th; 8 p.m. CT
Channel: BTN
Spread: Wisconsin -16
All-Time Series: Wisconsin leads 34-10
Last Meeting: Wisconsin won 66-60 on January 21st, 2016

Projected Starting Lineups

Penn State Nittany Lions (11-9, 3-4)

G Shep Garner – Jr. 6-2, 187 (12.3 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2.8 apg)
G Tony Carr- Fr. 6-3, 198 (11.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 3.6 apg)
G Josh Reaves- So. 6-4, 210 (8.5 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 2.6 apg)
F Lamar Stevens- Fr. 6-7, 218 (11.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.7 apg)
F Mike Watkins- Fr. 6-9, 246 (9.8 ppg, 8.1 rpg, .6 apg)

15 Wisconsin Badgers (16-3, 5-1)

G Bronson Koenig- Sr. 6-3, 190 (14.3 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 2.1 apg)
G Zak Showalter- Sr. 6-3, 185 (8.0 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.3 apg)
F Nigel Hayes- Sr. 6-8, 240 (13.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 3.1 apg)
F Vitto Brown- Sr. 6-8, 235 (7.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 1.1 apg)
C Ethan Happ- So. 6-10, 232 (13.6 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 3.0 apg)

Players to Watch: Brevin Pritzl and Andy Van Vliet

Usually in this section, we highlight a key matchup to watch. But the truth is, in this game, there aren’t any. I fully expect Wisconsin to dominate tonight. That means Van Vliet and Pritzl, two highly touted Badger reserves, may get a chance to prove themselves.

In limited action, Pritzl has been solid. He is holding his own on defense and has been careful with the ball. We haven’t seen many three-pointers yet, but we know that he can stroke it. Van Vliet still looks a little weak for Big Ten standards, but it is clear that he has a great three-point shot, something neither Alex Illikainen or Charlie Thomas have been able to provide this season.

It is doubtful either Van Vliet or Pritzl cracks the rotation this season (although Pritzl is getting closer), but I am excited to see how they look in extended time against a Big Ten foe.

3 Numbers to Know

78That is Penn State’s KenPom ranking. For reference, Oklahoma is ranked 63rd, Syracuse is 59th, and Ohio State is 57th. Wisconsin smacked all three of those teams in the Kohl Center. So if you were wondering why I was so sure that this game would be a blowout in the last section, this is why.

3That is number of freshmen in Penn State’s lineup. Two of them start in their frontcourt. Good luck stopping one of the most experienced teams, and Ethan Happ, one of the savviest post players in the country, with all that youth and inexperience.

21That is how many games Wisconsin won out of the last 23 times Wisconsin and Penn State have played. The Badgers have an eight-game winning streak (let’s not talk about what happened in the game preceding that), and have dominated the fairly one-sided series since Bo Ryan took over.


If this game was in State College, I would give Penn State a slight chance to pull the upset. But in the Kohl Center, forget about it. Talent, experience, efficiency rankings, coaching, you name it. This game is a complete mismatch in every possible way. The winning streak is about to hit nine-games. I just hope we beat them bad enough to make them cry. They deserve it after what happened on December 3rd.

Wisconsin 88, Penn State 61


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