|Who: No. 21 Wisconsin (19-5, 6-5 B1G) at No. 15 Michigan (18-6, 10-2 B1G)|
|Where: Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, MI|
|When: 1:00 p.m., Sunday, February 16th, 2014|
|Radio: MGoBlue, 950 AM, 102.9 FM, 91 Sirius/XM|
|More: Ball screen defense | Pick to Click|
Michigan traveled to Madison just under a month ago with something to prove. The Wolverines hadn’t beaten a ranked team and hadn’t proven they could compete on the highest level without Mitch McGary.
Michigan beat Wisconsin. Then it beat Iowa, Michigan State and Ohio State for good measure. The Wolverines aren’t worried about whether they can compete anymore, they are worried about winning the Big Ten Championship.
Wisconsin, ranked No. 3 the last time these two teams played, has seen tougher times over the last month. The Michigan loss was the second of five losses in a six game span, but like the Ohio State team that Michigan faced on Tuesday, the Badgers appear headed in the right direction after a statement home win over Michigan State.
The Badgers are scoring 1.11 points per possession in Big Ten games, third best in the league. Wisconsin is disciplined with the ball, like all of Bo Ryan’s teams, and is a good shooting outfit. The Badgers are shooting 52% on twos (2nd) and 34.2% on threes (6th) for a .517 effective field goal percentage (4th). This year’s Wisconsin team also gets to the line more often than any Bo Ryan team since the 2007 Badgers.
Wisconsin has struggled on the glass in Big Ten games. The Badgers are rebounding on 31% of their misses (9th) and are allowing opponents to rebound 31% of their misses (7th) in conference games.
Wisconsin’s defense surrenders 1.04 points per possession in Big Ten play – seventh best in the conference. Wisconsin has the third-best effective field goal percentage defense in the conference at 47.3%. Badger opponents shoot 45% on twos (3rd) and 36% on threes (10th), but Wisconsin allows fewer 3-point attempts than any team in the league. The Badger defense fouls less often than any team in the Big Ten, but also causes fewer turnovers. This isn’t an aggressive in-your-face defense, it’s a containing defense designed to force difficult shot attempts.
I don’t expect Bo Ryan to bend from his traditional defensive structure. Ryan isn’t the type to extend ball pressure on the wings and deny Nik Stauskas the ball. He’s not the type to switch from his preferred ball screen defensive – a soft hedge and recovery – just because of one player.
Defend the three: Letting Ohio State bomb away from long distance might have worked in Columbus, but it won’t work against Wisconsin. The Badgers are only shooting 34% on threes, but two of Wisconsin’s three starting guards shoot more threes than twos.
Do something else. In the first game, Michigan pretty much just outshot Wisconsin. Both teams did what they do for lack of a better word – there were very few turnovers, very few free throws and very few offensive rebounds. Beating Wisconsin is a lot easier if you can flip one of those other three factors in your favor.
Michigan won at the Kohl Center and Ken Pomeroy likes the Wolverines to complete the sweep at home, projecting a 72-66 Michigan victory.