After dropping two straight contests to conference opponents, Marisa Moseley’s Wisconsin squad (3–11, 0–4 Big Ten) face the Minnesota Golden Gophers (8–8, 1–3) in Madison Jan. 12.
The two last squared off Feb. 14, 2021, with the Golden Gophers edging out the Badgers in a back-and-forth battle 68-63. With a 6-19 mark since 2002 and 1-9 record in their last 10 matches against the Gophers, the Badgers will look to steal a victory and improve their track record in the rivalry Wednesday night.
Led by Lindsay Whalen, a former WNBA all-star and anchor of a 53-47 program during her tenure in Minneapolis, the 2020-2021 squad went 8-13 during a shortened season.
Through 16 games this campaign, the University of Minnesota manages 69.1 points, shoots 41.7% from the field and totals 13.4 points off turnovers per bout. With a 37.2% split from behind-the-arc, the Golden Gophers rank 14th out of 348 qualified groups in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage.
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At the opposite end of the hardwood, the University of Wisconsin puts up 59.1 points per contest on 40.3% from the field and a sub-par 29.9% from outside. The Badgers force 6.9 steals, chalk up 10.7 points off turnovers and snatch 31.5 rebounds per match — the ninth-worst rebounding total in the NCAA. With only 15 giveaways per battle, the Badgers land in the top third of the pack in terms of protecting the rock.
Despite registering an uncharacteristic 41.7% mark from the floor against Indiana, Wisconsin junior Sydney Hilliard still ranks first among guards in the country with an impressive 56.35% clip from the floor. The Monroe-native notches 14.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.9 swipes in 34.8 minutes of action each time out. Without a single attempt from deep on the season, the guard is responsible for 71 made field goals — eight more than any other Badger.
Through 35.7 minutes per game over 12 appearances, junior Julie Pospíšilová averages 14.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.6 steals per game. With an impressive 528 total minutes logged thus far, point guard Katie Nelson leads UW with 50 assists and freshman guard Krystyna Ellew earns 7.5 points off a stellar 95.5% mark from the charity stripe.
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Golden Gopher names to monitor:
Junior Sara Scalia, a 2021 All-Big Ten Honorable Mention and Academic All-Big Ten member, secures 15.3 points and 4.3 boards over 33.1 minutes per contest. The five-foot-ten-inch guard from Stillwater, Minnesota, ranks 52nd out of 175 qualified student-athletes in three-point field-goal percentage with 40.9% efficiency from deep, so Nelson and Pospíšilová will need to avoid unnecessary fouls on the perimeter.
Accountable for a team-leading 23 steals and 18 blocks, guard Deja Winters racks up 10.8 points off and a 42.2% clip from outside. Alongside Scalia and Winters, guard Jasmine Powell adds 13.5 points and 4.7 rebounds. The junior also leads the Golden Gophers with 80 assists through 14 games.
Though Moseley’s Badgers remain in the bottom of the conference against other Big Ten groups, UW could take advantage of a few Minnesota defects on Wednesday evening. U of M turns it over 16.5 times per contest, so if Wisconsin can jump passing lanes and grab a few loose balls they could disrupt the Maroon and Gold in Madison Wednesday night.