The Wisconsin Basketball team will look to extend their three game winning streak and climb above .500 against the University of Massachusetts-Lowell River Hawks. The game will tipoff at 3 PM CT, and air on the Big Ten Network. This will serve as Wisconsin’s last non-conference game of the regular season.
1. Brad Davison’s shoulder continues to be an issue
After dislocating his shoulder against Baylor back in November, Davison’s shoulder never fully recovered. Since the original injury, he dislocated it again during games on three separate occasions, including twice in Wisconsin’s last game against Chicago State. Davison is one of the toughest kids to ever wear a Badger uniform, so he has been gritting his teeth and playing through it. But there is a chance that at some point his shoulder will force him to actually sit out for a few games. It’s worth keeping an eye on.
2. Wisconsin needs to play more focused than it did against Chicago State
Despite Wisconsin never being in true danger of losing, it was one of the worst performances I have ever seen from a Badger hoops team. Wisconsin was 30-point favorites. Chicago State, one of the worst teams in the country, had already lost by 69 points to Purdue, 65 points to Northwestern, 39 points to Notre Dame, 38 points to UNI, and 33 points to Iowa this season. Wisconsin only won by 12, and got outplayed during stretches of the game. That is unacceptable, and if they play that way against a moderately better UMass Lowell team, the Badgers will lose.
3. Aleem Ford has been on fire
After being quiet on offense for most of the season, Ford has started to heat up over the last few games. Ford is averaging 12 points per game and has hit 9 of 12 three-pointers over his last three games. His recent offensive outburst has been a bright spot in an otherwise tough season for the Badgers. Hopefully it can continue against UMass Lowell.
4. This is the last tune-up game before conference play
After this game, Wisconsin will have no “bye-games” left on their schedule. They will have to fight and claw to earn every single victory the rest of the way. They start with Indiana in the Kohl Center on Tuesday, and then have a two-game road stand against Rutgers and Nebraska. Those are winnable games, but Wisconsin needs some positive momentum and confidence heading into Big Ten Play.
The Badgers are heavy favorites
According to BetOnline Sports, Wisconsin is an 18-point favorite. T-Rank gives the Badgers a 93% chance to win, while ESPN’s FPI gives them a 94% chance to win. According to every and any metric, the Badgers should win this game handily. But they also woefully under-performed expectations against Chicago State. If the Badgers do that again, they could suffer an absolutely embarrassing loss.
Prediction: Wisconsin 81, UMass Lowell 70
The way Wisconsin is playing, I can’t see them blowing anyone out. However, Ethan Happ will end up being too much for an inexperienced UMass Lowell front line. The Badgers will likely dominate on the glass and hit a few more three-pointers than the River Hawks, leading to a score with a constant margin of 10-15 points.