Following a busy Saturday crammed full of conference play, two polar opposite teams wrap up the Big Ten weekend. While Wisconsin and Northwestern both won their first B1G matchups, the programs have very different outlooks on the rest of the 2015 season. Here is a more in-depth look at the contest.
Game of the Day
Northwestern Wildcats vs. #4 Wisconsin Badgers - 8:30 ET (BTN)
In theory, this game should be a no-contest. Wisconsin (13-1) comes in as 14 point favorites, considerably generous given the level on which the Badgers have been playing as of late. In their game against Penn State on New Year's Eve, sophomore Nigel Hayes dropped 21 points and Frank Kaminsky added 14 rebounds en route to a 89-72 victory. Bo Ryan's team has yet to play a game within 10 points since their 80-70 loss against then #4 Duke on December 3rd. This is largely due to their defensive prowess. Wisconsin is giving up only 53.8 points per game on the season, the sixth best number in the nation. This coupled with their multiple outlets to score the ball in Hayes, Kaminsky and Sam Dekker, make them very difficult to beat. The conference favorites are well-coached, and execute when they need to. Their 8.6 turnovers per game are 2nd best in all the NCAA and are a major reason for their sustained excellence this year.
The Badgers are a nightmare matchup for Northwestern (10-4), who has struggled scoring the ball. The Wildcats' 64.8 points per game are 254th in the country, even with a relatively weak non-conference schedule. While Tre Demps comes in as their leading scorer, he has only put up 11.8 per contest. That number is lower than each of Wisconsin's top three leaders in points. With little offensive threat to counter the opponent, Northwestern will likely turn to their defense to get key stops. Coach Chris Collins has his team giving up 58.9 points in the early part of the season, which at 38th in the nation is relatively strong. Look for Collins to have the Wildcats playing tight on Kaminsky and Hayes in order to shut down their two biggest weapons. That being said, it is very unlikely they will be able to effectively guard both stars while keeping an eye on the rest of Wisconsin's players. Barring a miracle, this one is all Badgers.