On Wednesday, the No. 11-seeded University of Wisconsin women’s basketball team (8-21, 3-13 Big Ten) will face No. 14 Rutgers (6-23, 3-13 Big Ten) in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. The winner of the matchup will advance to play No. 6 Michigan State the following day.
Despite a 71-60 loss on the road to Iowa in their last game of the regular season, the Badgers ended things on an overall high note. Wisconsin won three of its last six outings with each of its wins coming on the Badgers’ home court. One of those late-season wins came against the Scarlet Knights.
Wisconsin ended up splitting the season series with Rutgers, with each team triumphing when they were at home. In both of their meetings, the winner went on to defeat their opponent by double digits.
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The end of the season was not as kind to Rutgers as it was to Wisconsin. The Scarlet Knights dropped their last 10 regular season games; two ugly blowouts against Northwestern and Ohio State to close things out marked their breakdown.
With Rutgers holding the conference’s third-best defense in points allowed per game and the worst scoring offense, Wednesday’s matchup will presumably be low-scoring, especially considering Wisconsin is the second-lowest scoring offense.
While the Badgers have been far from great from the 3-point range this season, no team has been as ineffective as the Scarlet Knights from deep. They have been the Big Ten’s least efficient at shooting the long ball and have posted a 3-point field goal percentage of 28.6 percent.
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It will be up to head coach Jonathan Tsipis’ squad to take advantage of their opponents on the glass, seeing as Rutgers only pulls down just more than 20 defensive rebounds per game. The Badgers’ top rebounder, senior forward Avyanna Young, is now 12th in the Big Ten in rebounds per game and has continued to carry the load for her team on the boards.
If Wisconsin can get the kind of offensive contributions it’s gotten out of its scorers recently, the Badgers should be on their way to the next round. Per usual, cutting turnovers will be vital because Rutgers averages the second-most steals per game in the conference. Forcing the Scarlet Knights into taking jumpers will further enhance the Badgers’ chances in light of their opponent’s dreadful shooting.
Tip-off is slated for 3 p.m. CT at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.