Following a 10-point defeat at the hands of the Virginia Tech Hokies for the Big Ten/ACC Challenge Dec. 1, Marisa Moseley’s Wisconsin squad (2-6) faces off against a conference rival, the Northwestern Wildcats (5-3) on Sunday, Dec. 5.
The two last met Feb. 20, 2021, with Madison’s team coming up short in a 67-54 contest. With an 8-15 all-time mark and 1-14 record in their last 15 matches since Feb. 2013, the Badgers have certainly struggled historically when playing the Purple and White.
Anchored by Joe McKeown, the 2019-2020 Big Ten Coach of the Year with 733 career wins, the Wildcats experienced playoff success on a national stage. McKeown’s group went 16-9 overall and 11-7 in conference play throughout the 2020-2021 campaign, enough to secure a seventh seed bid to the NCAA tournament.
Though they fell to two-seeded Louisville in the round-of-32, Northwestern defeated UCF in the first round and even advanced to the conference semifinals during Big Ten postseason play.
Through eight games this season, the Wildcats have averaged 69.4 points, shooting 40.6% from the floor, with 37.8 rebounds and 13.6 assists each contest. The Purple and White defended at a high level as well, boasting 19 points off turnovers and ranking within the top 50 with 11 steals per match.
Across the hardwood, University of Wisconsin chalks up 59.3 points per game off 39.7% from the field and a sub-par 26.1% efficiency from three-point range. The Badgers deal out 12.1 assists, force 8.3 steals, and snatch 31.9 rebounds, 322nd out of 348 qualified programs in the country. With only 13.3 giveaways per outing, the Red and White rank 32nd for fewest turnovers in the nation.
Wisconsin junior Sydney Hilliard ranks 41st in the country with an impressive 57.8% clip from the field. The 5’11’’ guard averages 15.8 points, 5.5 boards, and two swipes in 34.6 minutes of action each time out. Without a three-point field goal attempt, the Monroe-native is accountable for 52 made field-goals, 22 more than any of her teammates.
In 35.7 minutes per game, junior Julie Pospíšilová puts up 14.5 tallies, 3.5 rebounds, four dimes, and 1.8 steals per bout along with a team-high 11 made looks from behind-the-arc this season. Point guard Katie Nelson holds for the 25th-best assist-to-turnover ratio in the NCAA (3.0), and forward Sara Stapleton registers 7.8 scores off 51.1% from the floor per game.
Wildcat names to monitor:
Senior Veronica Burton, team captain and 2020-2021 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, notches 19.3 points, 5.3 boards, 3.8 thefts and 1.3 swats over 34.6 minutes per contest. The 5’9’’ guard ranks 69th out of 194 qualified student-athletes in three-point percentage with 42.1% efficiency from downtown, so Hilliard and Nelson will need to pay close attention to the sharpshooter on the perimeter.
Responsible for the 16th most rebounds and 26th highest rebounds-per-game mark in the nation, senior Courtney Shaw racks up 10.5 tallies off a 53.15 clip from the floor. Alongside Burton and Shaw, first-year forward Caileigh Walsh leads the Wildcats with 19 total blocks through eight games.
Moseley’s Badgers face a Big Ten opponent in 18 of their next 21 matches. If they aim to avoid another last-place finish in the conference, Wisconsin will need to play at a faster pace and get Pospíšilová going early from the perimeter. Anticipate some extra energy in the Welsh-Ryan Arena on Sunday afternoon.