Following a very winnable matchup versus Illinois last Sunday, the University of Wisconsin Women’s Basketball team (10-13, 2-10 Big Ten) will welcome the No. 24 Michigan State Spartans (17-6, 7-5) to the Kohl Center Thursday night.
Since starting the year 6–0, the Badgers have spiraled downwards — especially on the Big Ten conference slate — notching just four wins in 13 contests.
In Big Ten play, the Badgers have allowed 72.8 points per game — the second-lowest mark in the conference. But the upcoming Badger schedule won’t be letting up anytime soon.
The Spartans have five scorers hovering around double-digit averages, and each of them will present matchup problems which could plague Wisconsin’s defense.
In their previous matchups with the Big Ten’s elite offenses, Wisconsin allowed 71 points to Iowa and 75 points to Maryland, causing their Big Ten average to climb.
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Michigan State’s offensive depth could trouble the top-heavy Badgers.
Despite their elite offensive attack, Michigan State allows a similar amount of points on offense compared to Wisconsin at 68.6 points per game in the Big Ten. The number seems to climb as the Spartans travel for road games as well.
The Spartans’ struggles on the road have followed them all year sporting a 3-5 record away from the Breslin Center.
If the Badgers hope to pull off this upset, they must channel their previous Big Ten wins.
In their victories over Purdue and Nebraska, Wisconsin limited their opponents’ outside shooting while maintaining a balanced scoring attack themselves.
The balanced scoring attack is possible due to Michigan State’s sub-par defense, but limiting their three-point shooting will be quite the challenge.
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In Big Ten play, the Spartans have the second-most three-point makes and the second-best three-point percentage thanks in large part, to junior guard Taryn McCutcheon.
The 5-foot-6 McCutcheon leads the Spartans with 58 three-pointers made at a 43 percent clip. Limiting McCutcheon could give the Badgers an edge on a side of the court they desperately need to manage, their defense.
Another key in Wisconsin’s previous Big Ten wins is Badger guard Niya Beverley’s play. Against both Purdue and Nebraska, Beverley pitched in 10 points and numerous assists.
Beverley will have to attack the lane and create passing and shooting angles for leading scorers Marsha Howard and Imani Lewis — two players who will both need efficient performances on both ends of the court for the Badgers to prevail.
The contest tips off at 7 p.m. Thursday night at the Kohl Center. Follow along live on BTN Plus or WIBA 1310 AM.