When Michigan and Wisconsin take to the Kohl Center floor tonight at 8:30 on the Big Ten Network, they'll both be sporting identical 11-3 (1-1) records, but only one will pick up another win.
Wisconsin enters the game coming off a loss at Illinois on Sunday. Despite big days from Jon Leuer and Jordan Taylor, who had 19 points each against the Fighting Illini, the Badgers fell after being out rebounded 31-24 and out shot 56%-35%.
Michigan will be looking to go on a winning streak after beating Penn State at home on Sunday. The Wolverines came back from a five point halftime deficit to send the Nittany Lions home losers thanks to 15 second half points from Zack Novak and 20 points for Darius Morris.
Keys to the game after the jump.
When Wisconsin Has The Ball
- Obviously, the Wolverines would do well to try and take Leuer out of at least one aspect of his stellar game. He averages 19.5 points and close to 47% from 3-point territory, but also an impressive 7.3 per game rebounding average. If Michigan can take one of those key elements away, it will limit his effectiveness and put more of a burden on his teammates.
- Michigan averages roughly two more rebounds per game than Wisconsin. If the Badgers can eat into that advantage by grabbing some offensive rebounds, they'll likely get more second chance points, which obviously bodes well for a Wisconsin victory.
When Michigan Has The Ball
- Wisconsin should look to keep Michigan on the perimeter, where the Wolverines shoot only 34%. If the Badgers can keep Michigan out of the middle of the defense and force the Wolverines into contested perimeter shots, it should severely limit their scoring.
- Novak's performance against Penn State was big. If he can establish some consistency in this game, not only will it be good for the Wolverines against Wisconsin, but it'll be a good sign for down the road. He's shown he can be a big part of the offense, the question now is whether he can do it routinely.
Expect this to be a pretty even game that comes down to one or two possessions at the end. Both teams have looked good in the early going against easier competition but have shrunk against some better teams. One will get a win against an evenly matched opponent tonight, however.