Michigan has to lose at some point, but it’s hard to say when that first loss will actually occur given the inconsistencies in the Big Ten outside of the state of Michigan. Wisconsin could prove to be a formidable foe, yet it’s lost Four of its last five Games and its last two at home against Purdue and Minnesota. That’s not a recipe for beating an all-around solid basketball team.
The Wolverines haven’t had many hiccups this season, dominating everyone at home, while dealing with anyone on the road. They had a scare at Northwestern in December, but escaped with a two-point win. This team still has some questions to answer on the road because since the almost perfect win at Villanova, the other road Games were at Northwestern and Illinois.
Still, something has to change for the Badgers to have a chance since they don’t do a ton of things well offensively outside of not turning it over and shooting from three. Unfortunately, the best thing about Michigan is its defense that’s ranked near the top of the efficiency charts all season, doing everything well.
The question is what everyone outside of Ethan Happ (19.4 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 4.6 apg) can do because as of late, no one has stepped up. D’Mitrik Trice (14.4 ppg) serves mostly as a shooter and his three-point percentage has fallen off at just 32 percent in the last six Games. Without that efficiency, the offense has tumbled as Brad Davison (10.5 ppg) has better percentages than last season, but he’s also not taking as many shots. None of the role players have done much with Nate Reuvers (8.2 ppg) the only other guy with more than 5.1 points per Game. A struggling offense is usually not a good thing to bring into a Game against Michigan, who also has an efficient offense.
The Wolverines have a complete roster and that’s seen in the stats as Zavier Simpson and Jon Teske don’t even average more than nine points per Game, yet Simpson has 52 points and 15 assists in the last three while Teske has 30 points, 22 boards and six blocks in the last two. Those two have taken the lead the last couple Games, yet Ignas Brazdeikis (15.6 ppg), Charles Matthews (14.1 ppg) and Jordan Poole (13.4 ppg) are still hitting double digits in almost every outing. The worst thing about Michigan’s offense is that it doesn’t draw fouls and doesn’t rebound well. For the most part, those things haven’t mattered and that’s why it’s undefeated.
Wisconsin will need to figure out how to defend this group and it’s unknown if that will happen given how inconsistent it has looked in recent Games. The Badgers at least have the bodies to match up since Khalil Iverson has the experience to deal with Matthews while Reuvers has the length to limit Brazdeikis. That’s at least a starting point for the home team, but to win, it’ll need to score. Happ can only do so much and even then he could have trouble with the bigger Teske, similar to what happened last Game at Maryland. For the Badgers to win, Davison is the guy that has to pick up his Game and if he can’t get past Poole, it could be another ugly Game for this offense.
Our Pick – Wisconsin +2.5