Busting Brackets

Wisconsin at Minnesota: 2018-19 college basketball game preview, TV schedule

WEST LAFAYETTE, IN - FEBRUARY 03: Amir Coffey #5 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers dribbles the ball around Ryan Cline #14 of the Purdue Boilermakers during the first half at Mackey Arena on February 3, 2019 in West Lafayette, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
WEST LAFAYETTE, IN - FEBRUARY 03: Amir Coffey #5 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers dribbles the ball around Ryan Cline #14 of the Purdue Boilermakers during the first half at Mackey Arena on February 3, 2019 in West Lafayette, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

Wisconsin basketball will be seeking revenge this week when they go on the road to take on Minnesota. The Badgers lost the previous matchup.

TV Schedule: Wednesday, Feb. 6, 9 p.m. CT BTN

Arena: Williams Arena, Minneapolis, MN

Earlier this season, Minnesota went to Wisconsin and pulled off the upset. It was a nice road win that the Gophers really needed. In fact, it has been Minnesota’s only road win this year. That win and the one over Iowa at home has been what is keeping the Gophers above the NCAA basketball cutline. The Big Ten is loaded this season so there are hardly any bad losses. Minnesota was defeated by one of the basement teams in Illinois, but they have not been on any multiple-game losing streaks this season.

Wisconsin has just on a big losing drought. Neither had eclipsed over two-games, but they were losers in four out of five games. It all ended when Wisconsin knocked off Michigan at home. Just when everyone thought that the Kohl Center had lost its touch when the Badger fell to Minnesota and Purdue, it was rocking for all 40 minutes against the Wolverines. They then went on the road twice and won. Wisconsin also picked up two more home wins including another roof-raising, white-out game against Maryland.

Thanks to the wins at Nebraska and home against Michigan and Maryland, the Badgers are knocking on the door of a protected seed. They have been ranked for the last two weeks. The All-American Ethan Happ has cooled off just a tad. He’s only scored 15 or more twice in the last six games. He snapped some ridiculous streak of 10 or more points in a game in the win over Illinois. But their guards are finally knocking down shots. D’Mitrik Trice re-found his stroke and Brad Davison has been in double-figures in each of the last four games.

Wisconsin is going to need their guards to be making shots on Wednesday night. That was one area where Minnesota dominated in the last appearance. Amir Coffey can be a major mismatch in any basketball game. It’s really hard to find an answer for him sometimes. He’s a 6-foot-8 guard that is averaging over 16 points per game and can let it fly from deep. Coffey hauls in a solid three boards and dishes about three assists per game as well. He proved to be the difference-maker against the Badgers in their last matchup because of his length and athleticism.

The boards would probably be higher for Coffey if it weren’t for the Gophers two rebounding machines in Jordan Murphy and Daniel Oturu. Murphy is averaging 9.8 boards per game in almost four seasons and has recorded at least 15 boards in six games this season. His scoring has really gone up as Murphy has been in double-figures in his last seven games. Then there’s the freshman Oturu, who is breaking out for over 10 points and seven boards per game.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t the frontcourt that the Gophers used to beat the Badgers in their last matchup. Wisconsin is very slim around the hoop. The Badgers really only have two guys who are taller than 6-foot-6 that play around the basket. Nate Reuvers has really come on this season and shows signs of being able to score as a reliable big man in the Big Ten. Khalil Iverson gives up height at the three and can’t hit a jumper. Aleem Ford is 6-foot-8, but rarely ever leaves the wing.

Minnesota did almost throw the game away last time due to Murphy fouling out and Oturu picking up four fouls. It was just Eric Curry’s second game back and he was still trying to ease back into game action. The thing that the Gophers did to win, though, was find some clutch shooters. What stood out was Brock Stull playing a season-high 22 minutes and knocking down two triples off the bench when Wisconsin was making a comeback. He silenced the home crowd. Michael Hurt averages under 10 minutes per game and he hit two field goals.

Wisconsin needs to find guys like that. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: when Ford knocks down more than one three-pointer per game, the Badgers’ chances of winning increases significantly. In fact, Wisconsin is 4-1 when he hits more than one triple with the only loss coming to Marquette in overtime.

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Minnesota’s bench only outscored Wisconsin 12-8 in the last meeting, but the Gophers won by seven and Coffey scored four more points than Happ. The Barn is a tough place to play. The Gophers have only lost once at home and that was against Maryland on Jan. 8.  Minnesota is just coming off a loss and as mentioned before, they haven’t gone on any major losing streaks at all this season.

Prediction: Minnesota 73, Wisconsin 69