The University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team (16-9, 10-8 Big Ten) faces two critical games before next week’s Big Ten Tournament. The Badgers pivotal two-game stretch starts Tuesday night on the road against No. 23 Purdue (16-8, 11-6) at Mackey Arena.
Head Coach Greg Gard and the Badgers are coming off yet another loss against a ranked opponent, this time a heartbreaking 74–69 defeat at the hands of No. 4 Illinois. Saturday’s loss marked Wisconsin’s sixth consecutive defeat against a ranked opponent.
Though the Badgers failed to come out on top, one bright spot for Wisconsin was the play of senior guard D’Mitrik Trice. The 6-foot guard from Huber Heights, Ohio took the game over during the game’s final minutes, scoring the team’s last 19 points.
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Trice finished with a season-high 29 points and his scoring will be critical if the Badgers want to pick up a critical road win Tuesday night.
The Boilermakers come into Tuesday’s game red-hot — winners of three straight games, all by double digits. During their three-game winning streak, the Boilermakers are outscoring their opponents by a 223–175 margin.
Purdue’s impressive stretch has turned heads across the country and they are currently a projected No. 5 seed in ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi’s projected NCAA Tournament field.
Rebounding will be a major key in Tuesday’s matchup. The Badgers have struggled throughout the year keeping teams off the glass, ranking 12th in rebounds per game (34.3). Purdue, on the other hand, is a physical team excelling at rebounding and collecting extra possessions.
The Boilermakers rank fourth in the conference, hauling in almost 38 rebounds per game. It will be critical for big men Nathan Reuvers and Micah Potter to keep Purdue’s front-court players off the glass in Tuesday’s showdown.
One player to watch in this game is Purdue forward Trevion Williams. Williams has built off a strong sophomore season by becoming one of the best forwards in the Big Ten, averaging 15.8 points per game and nine rebounds per game.
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A difficult player to keep off the boards, Williams has been a double-double machine during his junior season, collecting nine on the year, good enough for the third-most in the Big Ten. It could be a long night for Wisconsin if they can’t slow down Willliams’ production.
Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. and Badger fans can catch the game on ESPN2.