Undefeated Michigan will face their toughest test yet with a Top 10 battle Tuesday night against Wisconsin.
TV Schedule: Tuesday, January 12th, 7 pm ET, ESPN
Arena: Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, MI
A Top 10 showdown between Big Ten Conference powerhouses will take place on Tuesday night when the undefeated Michigan Wolverines (10-0, 5-0 Big Ten) host the Wisconsin Badgers (10-2, 4-1 Big Ten).
This matchup will mark the third game this season that Michigan has faced an AP Top 25 opponent in 2021.
Tuesday’s meeting between Michigan and Wisconsin will mark the 126th all-time meeting. Michigan currently leads the all-time series 70-55, while Wisconsin won last season’s matchup 81-74 at Michigan.
During Wisconsin’s last game on Thursday, the Badgers were able to outlast Indiana 80-73 in double overtime. Senior point guard, D’Mitrik Trice (14.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.7 apg), led Wisconsin with 21 points and seven assists, while senior forward, Nate Reuvers (10.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg), scored 14 points and snagged six rebounds.
On Wednesday, Michigan was able to outscore Minnesota 50-31 in the second half to win 82-57 over the Golden Gophers. Freshman center, Hunter Dickinson (18 ppg, 8.1 rpg), scored a career-high 28 points and added eight rebounds. Senior forward, Isaiah Livers (13.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg), added 14 points and seven rebounds.
Heading into Tuesday’s matchup, experience will be the key for Wisconsin. The Badgers have five seniors in the starting lineup with guards, D’Mitrik Trice and Brad Davison (10 ppg), and forwards, Nate Reuvers, Micah Potter (12.5 ppg, 7 rpg), and Aleem Ford (9.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg).
Wisconsin’s strength comes from their three-point shooting, and they will look to use it to their advantage on Tuesday. The Badgers will enter their matchup in the Top 10 nationally in perimeter shooting, averaging 41.4 percent from the outside. Three of Wisconsin’s starters, Trice, Potter, and Davison are all shooting better than 42 percent from three-point range.
The weakness of the Wolverines defense this season has been guarding the perimeter. On New Year’s Eve, Michigan allowed Maryland to drain 13 three-point shots. The Wolverines are currently 11th in the Big Ten in defending the perimeter, allowing conference opponents to shoot 36.4 percent from the outside.
However, Michigan’s perimeter defense has come alive during the past two games by improving and locking down their opponents. Michigan has allowed their last two opponents (Northwestern and Minnesota) to shoot a combined 9-for-31 from three-point range (29 percent). The Wolverines defense will look to shut down a Badgers perimeter attack that made 16 three-point shots in December against Louisville.
Along with Wisconsin’s experience, comes their great decision making with the basketball. Wisconsin will enter Tuesday’s matchup with the edge in the turnover battle. The Badgers are currently second nationally behind Villanova with just 8.2 turnovers per game. Michigan’s weakness on the offensive side of the ball has been turnovers, in which the Wolverines are 13th in the Big Ten averaging 13.6 turnovers per game.
For Michigan, the Wolverines’ strength this season has been on the interior. Michigan has three terrific rebounders with Hunter Dickinson, Isaiah Livers, and sophomore guard, Franz Wagner (12.2 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 3.2 apg). All three players are averaging over five rebounds per game and have made beneficial impacts for the Wolverines on the boards. Michigan is a plus-106 (308-202) in defensive rebounds this season.
Leading the Wolverines this season in scoring and rebounding is Hunter Dickinson, who is having a phenomenal freshman season. Dickinson has taken advantage of his opportunity and has risen to be the early-favorite as this season’s Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Not only is Dickinson by far the top freshman in the conference, but he has also been one of the top freshmen this season in college basketball.
During the last three games, Dickinson has been on a tear, averaging 24.3 points per game and shooting 30-for-38 from the floor (78.9 percent). Dickinson’s impact inside has put him currently fifth nationally in shooting percentage, converting on 73 percent of his shots. Wisconsin’s frontcourt with Nate Reuvers and Micah Potter will have their hands full defending Dickinson on Tuesday.
This matchup could very well be a close one, and that’s where Michigan has the edge at the free-throw line. The Wolverines are first in the conference converting on 80.7 percent of the free throws. Two of the Wolverine’s starters, Isaiah Livers and senior guard, Eli Brooks (9.8 ppg, 3.1 apg), are both converting on over 92 percent of their free throws this season.
The potential X Factor on Tuesday could be Wolverines senior guard, Chaundee Brown (9.2 ppg), who has been the sixth man off the bench scoring in double figures in four games this season.
On Tuesday, the stakes are high at the top of the conference as both teams will battle it out in a crucial matchup that could possibly determine who wins the Big Ten Conference regular-season title.
Wisconsin’s experienced starting lineup of five seniors is looking to hand Michigan its first loss of the season. Michigan will have their toughest test by far on Tuesday and will be searching for their 11th straight victory to remain perfect on the season.
Either way, both teams are looking for a high-quality victory to build their resume to improve seeding for the NCAA Tournament.
Tuesday’s matchup will be appointment TV as the top two defenses in the Big Ten will square off in a nationally ranked Top 10 college basketball battle.
Prediction: Michigan 70, Wisconsin 68