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College Hoops Pick
Michigan is coming off two really difficult games at Indiana and an overtime thriller against Ohio State, but the fun doesn't end there as they go to Wisconsin and Michigan State in their next two games. Wisconsin has a similar stretch starting with Michigan, at Minnesota and then against Ohio State. You can never take days off in the Big 10.
Both schools are coming off big confidence-boosting wins. Michigan overcame a second half 8-point deficit to eventually beat the Buckeyes in OT on Tuesday, a team they already lost to this season. Wisconsin was coming off a stretch of three losses in four games and stepped up big on the road to get a win over Illinois. On Wednesday, it took two overtimes, but the Badgers outlasted Iowa, a team that had beaten them three straight times.
The Badgers have only lost one game at home this year and that was a very ugly 49-47 loss to Michigan State in which they shot 39% from the charity stripe. The Wolverines may be young, but they already have road wins at Minnesota and Illinois which aren't easy places to play. They fought last Saturday in Indiana, but were ultimately outmatched most of the way.
Michigan is one of the best shooting teams in the nation and they showed that in their last win over the Buckeyes with 14 made three-pointers. Tim Hardaway Jr. had a stretch of five straight made threes on his way to a season-high six three-balls for the game. Trey Burke and Nik Stauskas also put in seven between the two of them. Live by the three, die by the three is a motto that Wisconsin is familiar with. The Badgers have actually attempted more long-range shots than the Wolverines, unfortunately for them, they haven't made as many which could explain why they have seven losses this season.
Freshman Mitch McGary is slowly becoming Michigan's top big man as he's played 28 minutes in two straight games. He will likely get the task of trying to contain Jared Berggren, Wisconsin's leading scorer. Defenses have figured him out in Big 10 play as he was averaging less than seven points in his last six games before Wednesday night. In double OT, he came through with 16 points, 14 rebounds and seven blocks. Berggren is a big part of the Badgers offense and gets the ball plenty. Ben Brust and Ryan Evans have both stepped up in the last two games leading the team in scoring. In those games, Brust had 38 total points while Evans had 30. Both of them average less than 11 points per game.
If the Wolverines can keep their incredible shooting rolling, they should have no problem in this game, but it's very unlikely they will shoot 14-of-24 from three-point range again. The Badgers play tough defense and it will be interesting to see what they can do against Trey Burke who got the monkey off his back and had some success against Aaron Craft last game. He can shoot and get to the basket whenever he wants to. Against the Buckeyes he finished with eight assists. When you have shooters like Hardaway Jr. and Stauskas, that should come easy.
Wisconsin will be psyched for this game and hope to grab their second win over a Top 5 team in the matter of a month. The Wolverines know they will need some momentum going into East Lansing and will attack the Badgers as much as possible.
Predicted Score - Wisconsin 60 Michigan 59
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