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Tuesday Big Ten Preview: Badgers Back In Action

Bucky battles Broncs

NCAA Basketball: Wisconsin at Tennessee Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports

Happy holidays, readers! We’ve got one final nonconference game tonight. Come the 2020s, conference play kicks into high gear. Can’t wait!

Game of the Night:

-Rider Broncs at Wisconsin Badgers

  • Time/TV: 7:00 PM EST, BTN
  • KenPom Spread: Wisconsin -13

The Big Ten is both really good and a hot mess, and perhaps there’s no team that encapsulates both attributes better than Greg Gard’s Badgers. The team that lost to Rutgers, Richmond, and New Mexico is also the team that went into Knoxville and thumped the Tennessee Volunteers. So for those of you watching this game trying to figure out if Wisconsin is any good: some nights they are, and some nights they aren’t.

Even on a bad night, this should be a W, but maybe not. Rider is 7-3, and the three losses are to Arizona State, UMass, and Temple. None of those teams are great, but they’re at least name programs. There are no embarrassing losses on the resume, and the Broncs have a nice neutral-site win over Vermont.

This one is going to be a contrast is styles. To the surprise of absolutely no one, Wisconsin is one of the five slowest-paced teams in America. Rider is the 35th-fastest. They play fast at both ends of the floor, but especially the defensive end. Oddly, though, they don’t force a lot of turnovers, nor do they give up a lot of easy points at the rim. They dare teams to shoot open threes.

That’s a little bit scary if you’re a Wisconsin fan, because the Badgers have been hot and cold from behind the arc. Just about every guy on the roster is capable of making the long ball, but none of them has been able to do it consistently; even Brevin Pritzl is under 40%, and that’s his only job!

So for those of you tuning into this one, you’re apt to see one of two things. Either the Badger team that beat Indiana and Tennessee blows out the Broncs by hitting their threes, or the team that struggles to get to 60 points once again struggles to get to 60 points by missing all of their threes.

Pick against the spread: Rider. I expect Wisconsin to win, but there’s probably going to be a little bit of a hangover from that Tennessee game.