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3/28 Big Ten Basketball Preview: Wisconsin Faces North Texas in NIT Semis

Syndication: The Register Guard Ben Lonergan/The Register-Guard / USA TODAY NETWORK

The NIT continues tonight with a pair of games in Las Vegas. In the first of those two games the Badgers will tip off against North Texas, followed by Utah Valley and UAB in the second game of the night.

North Texas Mean Green vs Wisconsin Badgers

  • NIT Semifinals
  • Time/TV: 7:00 PM ET ESPN/ESPN+
  • Line: North Texas -1.5

In the first game tonight Wisconsin faces off against North Texas in what is sure to be a slow paced, ugly, Wisconsin style basketball game. Entering the night the Badgers are ranked by KenPom with a not-so-good offense efficiency ranking of 132nd, offset by a top 25 defense. Their adjust tempo rating puts them 342nd in the nation out of 363 schools. The school ranked 363rd in the nation? North Texas.

The Mean Green actually run a slower paced offense than the Badgers and have a slightly more efficient defense. They aren’t setting the world on fire, but their offensive ranking of 70th is about 60 spots north of the Badgers. Of course they managed to post those numbers with a considerably more manageable schedule than Wisconsin, but North Texas is basically the Wisconsin of Conference USA with a slightly better offense.

In three games through the NIT North Texas has yet to give up 60 points, including a game at Oklahoma State that even had an extra five minutes. Naturally Wisconsin seemingly has found their offense in the NIT, exploding against Bradley and Liberty before finding just enough of a spark in the second half to sneak past Oregon on the road.

North Texas is paced by Tylor Perry, who leads the team with 17.3 points per game. Guard Kai Huntsberry is a viable second option, averaging 12 points per game. Outside of forward Abou Ousmane no one else on the roster averages more than 7 points per game on their way to a lowly 64.2 points per game. That number is about the same as Wisconsin’s 64.9, though the Badgers spread around the ball a bit better with four players averaging 11.3-12.2 points per game. If Wisconsin can slow down Perry there will be some serious questions as to where North Texas will fill the void.

This game is set to be a slow paced, ugly affair. Honestly anyone that has spent any time watching Wisconsin has seen this style of game plenty of times, but it will be interesting to see two teams with that exact same style face off. North Texas has played a bit better metric wise, but they also have done so against lesser opposition. Can they continue to do so against another power conference opponent?

If Wisconsin plays to the level they’ve played at throughout the NIT they should be capable of winning tonight. If they play to the level they played down the stretch in the Big Ten then the Mean Green will move on. Tonight feels like we’ll get a bit more of the recent Wisconsin team as they move on to the NIT Finals.

Pick: Wisconsin