Minnesota vs Wisconsin: Wisconsin and Minnesota are resuming Big Ten play on Thursday night after each team concluded their 11-game non-conference schedule as each team are poised to be Tournament contenders. Wisconsin is barely ranked at 22 in the AP poll while Minnesota has been unranked the entire season. The Badgers are only 2-2 in their last four games with no quality wins.
Event: College Basketball
Team: Minnesota vs Wisconsin
Date: Thursday, January 3, 2019
Game Time: 7:00 PM ET
Wisconsin and Minnesota both seem to be bouncing back just fine after last season. The Badgers were having a great non-conference season. They went 2-1 in the Bahamas with wins over Stanford and Oklahoma while losing to Virginia. Wisconsin beat North Carolina State, Iowa on the road while losing to just Marquette. Wisconsin then tripped up on the road to Western Kentucky last weekend.
The Golden Gophers beat a lot of power-conference teams, but they seem to be struggling this season. Minnesota defeated Utah and then went 3-0 in Vancouver with wins over Texas A&M, Santa Clara and Washington. The Utes and Aggies aren’t having the best seasons though. Minnesota went on the road and lost to a struggling Boston College team. They beat Oklahoma State, lost to Ohio State and then picked up a huge win over Nebraska to start a five-game wnning streak.
The Golden Gophers have their own big-two. I’ve said it before, Jordan Murphy is the most underrated player in the country. He’s averaging over 15 points per game and 12 boards with close to three assists. Murphy is going to give up some height to Happ, but they’re almost the same player. Their block numbers are the same and neither are much of a three-point threat.
Amir Coffey is the other guy averaging over 15 points per game for Minnesota. He has over three assists per game, 13 total steals, but not much of a three-point threat. Freshman Gabe Kalscheur is the outside shooter and has made 28 on he season. He’s the third of five Gophers in double-figures. Fellow freshman Daniel Oturu is averaging over 10 points per game while averaging 8.1 boards and blocking 27 shots. Dupree McBrayer is the other one averaging around 10 points per game while hitting 17 three-pointers.
There’s a bit of a drop off for Minnesota after those five. Brad Davison went off against the Hilltoppers which resulted in increasing his scoring average to just over 10 points per game. He had to play both guard positions last season, but now is clearly the two-guard. The backcourt depth includes Kobe King and Brevin Pritzl each averaging over five points per game. More guys for Happ to throw the ball to out of the post coming off the bench.
Minnesota does have Eric Curry returning. He was back for the game against Mount Saint Mary’s, played 17 minutes, made both of his shots, missed two outside shots, but grabbed six boards. That’s exactly how it went for the Badgers with Aleem Ford. He missed a few games to start the season, they eased him back in and is now a reliable three-point threat off the bench.