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Maryland vs. Wisconsin preview: Terps play underwhelming Badgers on the road

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The Terrapins look to stay undefeated in conference play.

Melo Trimble drives past Wisconsin's Bronson Koenig in Maryland's victory over the Badgers last season.
Melo Trimble drives past Wisconsin's Bronson Koenig in Maryland's victory over the Badgers last season.
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

After starting off 3-0 in Big Ten play, the No. 3 Maryland Terrapins will roll into Madison this Saturday looking to stay at least tied for the top spot in the conference. They'll face a Wisconsin team that doesn't much resemble the one Maryland upset at Xfinity Center last February.

Without Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker, these Badgers aren't the Final Four contenders they were under Bo Ryan, who retired earlier this season. They have embarrassing losses to Western Illinois, Milwaukee and Marquette, and are 1-2 so far in Big Ten play. The two teams tip off Saturday on ESPN at 1 p.m. You can stream the game live on watchESPN.

Wisconsin Badgers (9-7, 1-2 Big Ten)

The coach

Greg Gard. He's in his first season as head coach, taking over on an interim basis after Bo Ryan retired. The team is 2-2 with Gard at the helm.

Players to know

Nigel Hayes, junior, guard/forward, 6'8, No. 10. After playing a supporting role next to Kaminsky and Dekker in his first two seasons on the team, Hayes is struggling to make up for their production. He's taken over as the team's leader in scoring and assists this season, but he's shooting only 38 percent from the field (10 points worse than last season). In his words: "I've been playing like poop this year so far." He also crashes weddings in his spare time.

Bronson Koenig, junior, guard, 6'4, No. 24. Koenig is the other Badger who's been forced to help make up for the team's lost scoring. He's averaging 14 points per game, but his shooting percentage is only 40 percent, which is not a great figure.

Ethan Happ, freshman, forward, 6'8, No. 22. Happ, whose only other offers came from Wisconsin-Green Bay and Wisconsin-Milwuakee, is proving to be a pleasant surprise for the Badgers. The redshirt freshman leads his team in rebounding with 8 per game, and is Wisconsin's third-leading scorer, averaging 11 points per game. A Happ-Diamond Stone matchup down low will be interesting to watch.

Vitto Brown, junior, forward, 6'8, No. 30. Like Hayes and Koenig, Brown too is adjusting to a bigger role this season. This difference is this junior barely had a role at all in his previous two go-rounds with the team. After averaging three minutes per game as a freshman and six as a sophomore, Brown is averaging 26 this season. But like Hayes and Koenig, he's sporting an low field goal percentage. Brown has only hit 40 percent of his shots from the field, and only 27 percent from three-point range.

Strengths

Offensive rebounding. Wisconsin is good at getting offensive boards as well as keeping its opponents off the offensive glass. The Badgers' offensive rebound percentage is 37.3, good for 25th in the country, while their defensive rebound percentage ranks 30th. This is curious given the fact that they don't regularly play anyone taller than 6'9.

Weaknesses

Scoring. The Badgers rank 250th in the country in effective field goal percentage, according to KenPom. That's a steep fall from last season, when the team ranked 16th in the same category. Against Oklahoma, they only scored 48 points, which is terrifyingly bad. Wisconsin just doesn't have anyone who scares you offensively.

Three-point defense. Wisconsin has allowed opponents to shoot 37.9 percent from downtown, the 303rd-best (worst?) mark in the country. That could especially hurt the Badgers against the Terrapins, who shoot 38.7 from three.

KenPom's prediction: Maryland wins, 66-64. Terps have a 58 percent chance of winning.

Ryan's prediction: Maryland wins, 78-60.