No. 17 Maryland men’s basketball will face Wisconsin Tuesday night at Kohl Center in Madison Wisconsin as the team seeks its first road win of the season.
We talked with Drew Hamm of Wisconsin’s SB Nation site, Bucky’s 5th Quarter, to get some inside info on the Badgers ahead of the matchup. We also answered a few of his questions too, and you can find that here.
What stands out the most to you from Wisconsin’s season so far in somewhat of a down season for the program?
The Badgers, like every team in the B1G, have had a weird season. They’re beating multiple ranked teams on the road and they’re losing to New Mexico in Brooklyn, so it is kind of hard to pinpoint something that stands out the “most” from their season so far. Their resilience has been impressive. Back at the beginning of December, they lost to Rutgers, their fourth loss in five games, to fall to 5-5 on the year and then had 10 days off between games for exams. Since then they’ve gone 5-1 and beaten Tennessee, Ohio State and Penn State on the road. Also, their free throw shooting is good again now that Ethan Happ is gone.
While Wisconsin has a 10-6 record, the team has knocked off two ranked Big Ten opponents on the road. What makes the Badgers so equipped to cause upsets?
The Badgers play very good defense, they make their free throws, they don’t give up offensive rebounds, they don’t turn the ball over and they play at a glacial pace. This is a “classic Bo Ryan team” in those regards. These are all things, especially the pace of play, that can get opposing teams out of sorts and neutralize a home-court advantage. Now, playing Maryland in Madison should also be an advantage for Wisconsin, but Illinois just came into the Kohl Center and won so it’s not like it’s some sort of impenetrable fortress.
What’s the feel around the team like without Ethan Happ?
It’s weird to not have a “go-to” guy on the team. Wisconsin counted on Happ for so many years that I think it took them a while to figure out specific roles on this year’s team. I’d argue that there is still much of this figuring out to be done, but guys are slowly figuring out when they should be shooting and when they should be passing to a different guy to shoot. Having a more balanced attack probably makes it a little bit different to gameplan for the Badgers because there are multiple guys who could go off and score 20+ on any given night, but there also isn’t the one guy that is going to cause your coach to lose sleep worrying about stopping him.
Do you expect Micah Potter to eventually be a key part of the rotation and get more minutes?
The 5-1 record since the Rutgers loss that I mentioned earlier have also been all of the games that the Badgers have played with Potter eligible to be on the court. He is coming off a monster game against Penn State (24 points, 13 rebounds, 4-of-6 from three) and seems to be fully comfortable in Wisconsin’s swing offense now. Before playing 28 minutes against PSU, Potter had only been averaging 12.8 minutes per game so I think it is safe to say that he will only be getting more minutes as the first big off the bench as the season goes on.
What has the team stressed so far this week about facing Maryland?
Maryland and Ohio State (who the Badgers beat) have very similar defensive efficiency ratings and, spoiler alert, they are both very good. The Badgers will need to be hitting their threes because the Terps don’t give up a lot of points around the basket especially when Jalen Smith is on the court. Nate Reuvers and Potter will also have to stay out of foul trouble (which is easier said than done for the two of them) in order to combat Smith on the inside. D’Mitrik Trice will struggle to contain Anthony Cowan as well and I’d guess he’ll be Maryland’s leading scorer (hot take, I know).
This was a tough one because we won’t know which Wisconsin team is showing up for this game until about five minutes after tipoff. I think it will be close but I think Maryland pulls away late and wins 64-59.
Thanks again to Drew for taking the time here. Be sure to check out Bucky’s 5th Quarter for everything Wisconsin and follow the site on Twitter too.