A pair of teams at opposite ends of the Big Ten standings get together Tuesday night when they return to action as the No. 14 Wisconsin Badgers (10-2, 2-0) host the Minnesota Golden Gophers (6-6, 0-2). The combination of finals and inclement weather in the midwest has limited Wisconsin to one game since December 15, while Minnesota hasn’t played since December 22.
Wisconsin swept Minnesota last season and have won four in a row in the series. The Badgers are 13-2 head-to-head in the last 15 games and Minnesota has just two wins in 21 all-time visits to the Kohl Center.
Tuesday’s game at the Kohl Center tips off at 9:00 p.m. ET, airing on the Big Ten network. Wisconsin is favored by 13.5 points over Minnesota.
Minnesota Finally Back in Action
The Gophers opened Big Ten play with a 19-point loss at No. 1 Purdue and a 15-point home loss to Michigan. In non-conference play, they lost to No. 23 Mississippi State, DePaul, UNLV, and Virginia Tech, and all six wins have come against low or mid-major teams. They went 2-3 in December with wins over Arkansas-Pine Bluff, and Chicago State before their game against Alcorn State was canceled.
Minnesota averages 63.4 ppg on the season, and they are allowing 66.8 ppg. The offense has struggled overall, shooting 42.6% from the field and 32.6% from the 3-point line. They also don’t help themselves, making just 58.7% from the free-throw line, which ranks 361st in the nation.
Dawson Garcia, who spent a season each at Marquette and North Carolina, leads the team in scoring at 14.3 ppg. Jamison Battle averages 12,9 ppg but is shooting just 35% from the field. Ta’lon Cooper shoots over 50% from 3-point range and averages 10 ppg to go with 6.8 assists per game.
Minnesota ranks 344th in the nation in scoring and 250th in rebounding. They also turn the ball over nearly 15 times per game which will make life difficult on the road in the Big Ten.
Badgers Riding Five-Game Win Streak
Wisconsin lost twice at the end of November, to Kansas in the Bahamas and at home to Wake Forest in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Since then, they are 5-0 with a rivalry win over Marquette, and Big Ten wins over Iowa and Maryland. That run has the Badgers back inside the top 15 as they begin a four-game stretch that includes matchups with Illinois, Michigan State, and Indiana.
Tyler Wahl leads Wisconsin with 14.1 ppg and 6.8 rpg. Guard Chucky Hepburn is right behind him at 11.9 ppg and shoots nearly 50% from 3-point range. Steven Crowl (11.1 ppg) and Connor Essegian (10.4 ppg) are both in double digits for scoring as well, and the Badgers score 69 points per game.
Wisconsin is always good at defense, and this year is no exception, as they grab 7.5 steals per game. They rank 33rd in the country, allowing 61.3 ppg, and play at a slow pace, limiting possessions and getting good shots. The Badgers are 5-1 at the Kohl Center this season and 7-1 in the state of Wisconsin, with a pair of wins in Milwaukee.
Minnesota/Wisconsin Betting Prediction
Minnesota is 0-2 in true road games this season, and heading to Madison for their first game in 2023 is not an ideal trip for the Gophers style. Their struggling offense is a bad match-up for Wisconsin’s stingy defense, and the rate at which they turn the ball over won’t help.
The Badgers got a game under their belt on Friday to shake off the rust from the holidays, while Minnesota hasn’t played in nearly two weeks. Look for Wahl and Hepburn to knock down the big baskets, and Wisconsin -13.5 is the pick to play for this one.