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Badgers Basketball Preview: Northwestern edition

The Basics:

Where: Madison, Wis.; Kohl Center (17,287)
When: Sunday, Feb. 12; 5:30p.m. CT
Channel: BTN
Spread: Wisconsin -10
All-Time Series: Wisconsin leads 114-63
Last Meeting: NU won, 70-65, on January 12, 2016 (in Evanston, Ill.)

Projected Starting Lineups

Northwestern Wildcats (18-6, 7-4)

G Bryant McIntosh — Jr. 6-3, 185 (13.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 5.5 apg)
G Isiah Brown — Fr. 6-2, 175 (6.9 ppg, 1.2 rpg, 1.4 apg)
F Vic Law — So. 6-7, 205 (13.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.9 apg)
F Sanjay Lumpkin — Sr. 6-6, 220 (6.7 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.5 apg)
C Derek Pardon — So. 6-8, 235 (7.8 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.3 apg)

No. 7 Wisconsin Badgers (19-3, 5-1)

G Bronson Koenig Sr. 6-3, 190 (13.9 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.2 apg)
G Zak Showalter — Sr. 6-3, 185 (8.0 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2.0 apg)
F Nigel Hayes Sr. 6-8, 240 (13.6 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 3.0 apg)
F Vitto Brown Sr. 6-8, 235 (7.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.1 apg)
C Ethan Happ — So. 6-10, 280 (14.5 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 2.7 apg)

Matchup to Watch: Vic Law vs. Nigel Hayes

With Northwestern missing its best scoring option, as Scottie Lindsley misses yet another game, a lot more of the scoring responsibility will fall to players like Vic Law. It also makes the matchup of the two most athletic wing players that much more intriguing.

Hayes had himself a heck of a second half and overtime the last time out for Wisconsin, and judging by Wisconsin’s offensive ineptness as of late, it could be needed again on Sunday.

Law is also going to be a test for Hayes on the defensive end, but we’ve seen Hayes handle better players than Law all season long. Expect this matchup to be a big advantage for the Badgers if they can take care of the basketball.

3 Numbers to Know

— .805: That is Wisconsin’s winning percentage in regular season games played in February/March over the last four years. It means Wisconsin is 33-8 over that time frame and opponents find it very difficult to take down UW when it matters most.

— 22.9: That is the average margin of victory for Wisconsin in its last seven wins over Northwestern. However, this isn’t the bottom-dwelling squad most fans would expect from Northwestern. While history may suggest things are going to be easy for Wisconsin at the Kohl Center against NU, having won 14 of the last 15 matchups at the KC, recent form suggest this could be a struggle most won’t be happy with.

— 19: That is Wisconsin’s current win streak at home. Northwestern, while struggling against the Badgers in the Kohl Center know how to get the job done, winning back in 2015 by the score of 65-56. Wisconsin’s home win streak is the sixth longest in the country heading in to this game.

Prediction

Wisconsin 74, Northwestern 60

Northwestern is stretching itself without their leading scorer Scottie Lindsey, and they’ve lost the last two without him. It also doesn’t hurt that the Badgers are due to come out of their offensive slump at some point.

Logic would suggest that isn’t going to happen on Saturday because Northwestern is second in scoring defense and first in opponent field goal percentage coming in to this game. However, conventional logic has usually gone out the window with this team.

Don’t be surprised to see Northwestern find it difficult to handle the inside-out combo of Ethan Happ and Bronson Koenig.

 

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He’s a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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