Wisconsin (13-16, 6-10 Big Ten) will visit Northwestern (15-14, 6-10 Big Ten) Thursday as the Badgers finish up their season series versus the Wildcats.
The first game didn’t go well for the Badgers — the three-ball didn’t drop and they were unable to stop forward Dererk Pardon, who went a perfect eight for eight in the matchup facing star forward Ethan Happ.
But this Badger team was playing at a much higher level than the one Northwestern faced earlier. Brevin Pritzl, who went zero for nine from deep in the teams’ first matchup, was shooting 59 percent on threes since Feb. 1 when the two teams met up.
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Wisconsin forced seven turnovers against senior point guard Bryant McIntosh, an event unlikely to happen again in this contest.
McIntosh has been the Wildcats’ most efficient facilitator since their Cinderella tournament run last year. He led the team with 5.2 assists to just 2.4 turnovers.
For the Badgers, who have already clinched a first-round bye in the Big Ten tournament, there are no statistical incentives to win the game. But defeating Northwestern would provide keen insight into how the team will fare in the upcoming conference tournament.
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This season has had its ups and downs, to say the least. After losing starting point guard D’Mitrik Trice to injury, there was a strong sense of hopelessness in Madison. At its worst, the Badgers went through a five-game skid where the team often found itself down by double digits within the first few minutes of play.
With the current two-game win streak, the future is beginning to look bright for the Badgers. The new starting point guard Brad Davison showed he possessed the abilities of both an off-ball shooter and a facilitator.
While Davison struggled at first with turnovers — totaling 45 alongside 45 assists in his first 14 games as point guard — he averaged an incredible one turnover to 2.3 assists over the past six games.
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While Trice’s return this season seems dubious, this is an encouraging sign for Wisconsin Coach Greg Gard in how he will form lineups when the starting point guard returns.
Tipoff will start 6 p.m. from Evanston with live coverage available on ESPN 2.