The University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team is gearing up for a pivotal matchup against the Michigan State Spartans, looking to upset their conference foe.
Wisconsin (10-11, 3-5 Big Ten) will travel to East Lansing to take on the No. 6 ranked Michigan State Spartans (18-3, 6-2 Big Ten) Friday night in the Breslin Center.
For Wisconsin, this game signifies an opportunity to turn around what has been a bleak season thus far. The Badgers have yet to defeat a ranked team this season with only a handful of their wins coming against power conference teams (Indiana University, Penn State University and University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign).
Michigan State will be one of the toughest challenges yet for the Badgers. The Spartans have two projected NBA lottery picks on their roster in guard Miles Bridges and forward Jaren Jackson Jr.
Many were surprised to see Bridges return to collegiate basketball after an impressive freshman campaign that could have sent him straight to the NBA. But his return has placed the Spartans in immediate championship contention as he leads this powerful roster in scoring with 17.7 points per game while being second on the team in rebounds with 7.3 per game.
Despite receiving significantly less minutes, Jaren Jackson Jr. has been arguably even more productive than Bridges this year. The freshman is averaging 11.9 points and 6.4 boards a contest while only playing 23.2 minutes compared to Bridges’ 30.3. He has also been incredibly efficient, shooting .519 from the field and .446 from deep, albeit on just 2.7 shots a game, whereas Bridges is shooting .489 and .360 respectively.
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Wisconsin will try to counter Michigan State’s front-back court combination with one of their own in Khalil Iverson and Ethan Happ. While Happ has been a fixture in the offense all season long, Iverson has taken charge in the scoring department the past two games with 30 combined points.
But the key for the Badgers in this game will be limiting turnovers. Uncharacteristic for Wisconsin, the team has turned the ball over at about the same rate as their opponents this year with an average of 12.2 times a game. While this may be acceptable for some teams, Wisconsin’s exceptionalism over the past two decades has come through executing on the fundamentals.
Tip off begins from East Lansing at 7 p.m. this Friday with live coverage available on Fox Sports 1.