Opponent Preview: Wisconsin

On Tuesday, the Gophers will open the Big Ten season against the rival Badgers of Wisconsin. The heated match up will be the 179th meeting between the two teams and should be one of the most intense games of the early Big Ten season. Tip-off at the Kohl Center is set for 6:00 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN2.

No. 13 Minnesota (11-1, 0-0) vs. No. 24 Wisconsin (10-2, 0-0)
Madison, Wis. – Kohl Center (17,230)
6:00 p.m. CT – ESPN2 (Dave O'Brien, Dan Dakich)

Game Preview

After a gritty non-conference schedule, the Gopher will enter Tuesday's game with an 11-1 record and a top-15 ranking. Part of the reason Minnesota has been successful during their non-conference games is due to the strong guard play of veterans Al Nolen and Blake Hoffarber.

Nolen returned last game after a foot injury sidelined him. Nolen is one of the best on-ball defenders in the conference and should help to stop the offensive game of Badger point guard Jordan Taylor. Hoffarber has evolved from just a three-point shooter to an all-around ball player, averaging 13.9 points and five assists per game.

Look for the experience and calm of Nolen and Hoffarber to lead the Gophers into the hostile environment inside the Kohl Center.

Wisconsin's roster boasts four Minnesotans, almost as many as the Gophers. Orono, Minn. native Jon Leuer is one of the premier bigs that the Gophers will face. The 6-foot-10 Leuer is averaging 19.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game while shooting a gaudy 50.0% from behind the arc.

Leuer is a miss-match nightmare due to his length and shooting ability. If the Gophers want to sneak out of the Kohl Center with a win, they will need to rely on the athleticism and defensive strength of Trevor Mbakwe.

Game Notes

Quote to Note: Al Nolen on his return to action during the Gophers' game against South Dakota State: "It feels really good to get back out there and help, and to bring energy and play hard. I'm just really happy to get back out here and help out the team."

Season to Date: The Badgers stumbled out of the gate, losing two out of their first six games. Since, Wisconsin has rattled off six straight wins to find themselves back in the top-25 where they started the season. The streaking Badgers will look to knock off Minnesota to start the Big Ten season.

Coaching Preview: Bo Ryan is one of the most successful coaches the Gophers will face this season. Ryan has coached Division I basketball since 1999 and has compiled a career record of 257-111. Since joining Wisconsin in 2001, Ryan has a record of 227-84. During this span, Wisconsin has made the NCAA tournament each season including deep runs into the Sweet 16 and Elite 8. Ryan always has his teams prepared to play especially during the Big Ten schedule where he is an impressive 107-43 in conference games.

Series History: Minnesota leads the all-time series by a total of 94-84. The rivalry is 110 years old and dates back to 1900. The Gophers have won the last three meetings with Wisconsin including 68-52 domination last season at Williams Arena. Tubby Smith is 4-2 in his career versus the Badgers.

Random Fact: Under Bo Ryan, the Badgers are 143-11 at the Kohl Center. Last season at home, Wisconsin knocked off Purdue, Ohio State, Final Four team Michigan State and eventual national champion Duke. The Kohl Center has quickly become one of the most difficult places to play in the Big Ten.

Projected Starters:
F 52 Keaton Nankivil 7.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg
F 31 Mike Bruesewitz 5.9 ppg, 3.6 rpg
F 30 Jon Leuer 19.8 ppg, 7.3 rpg
G 11 Jordan Taylor 15.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg
G 21 Josh Gasser 6.7 ppg, 3.9 rpg

Background:
Location: Madison, Wisconsin
Enrollment: 28,960 undergraduate, 42,099 total
Conference: Big Ten
Mascot: Badgers
Head Coach: Bo Ryan (27th Season)


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