Preview: No.14 Minnesota at Wisconsin

Although Wisconsin had some solid non-conference results, it's hard to argue that any conference team did more with its out-of-conference games than Minnesota. Those records get tossed aside now, as both border rivals kick off the conference season Tuesday with its only regular season match-up in Madison.

No.14 Minnesota (11-1, 0-0 Big Ten) vs. Wisconsin (10-2, 0-0 Big Ten)

Date/Time - Tuesday, December 28, at 6 p.m. Central

Arena – Kohl Center (17,230)

Television - ESPN2 (Dave O'Brien & Dan Dakich)

Radio - Wisconsin Radio Network (Matt Lepay and Mike Lucas)

Series – Minnesota Leads 100-88 (57-33 in Madison)

Last Meeting - Minnesota won, 68-52, on Feb. 18, 2010 in Minneapolis

Wisconsin Probable Starters

11 Jordan Taylor (Junior Guard, 11.4 ppg)

21 Josh Gasser (Freshman Guard, 6.7 ppg)

30 Jon Leuer (Senior Forward, 19.8 ppg)

31 Mike Bruesewitz (Sophomore Forward, 5.9 ppg)

52 Keaton Nankivil (Senior Forward, 7.6 ppg)

Off the Bench

2 Wquinton Smith (Senior Guard, 0.6 ppg)

5 Ryan Evans (Sophomore Forward, 4.0 ppg)

24 Tim Jarmusz (Senior Forward, 3.8 ppg)

33 Rob Wilson (Junior Guard, 2.8 ppg)

40 Jared Berggren (Sophomore Forward, 4.4 ppg)

Minnesota Probable Starters

24 Blake Hoffarber (Senior Guard, 13.9 ppg)

32 Trevor Mbakwe (Junior Forward, 13.2 ppg)

33 Rodney Williams (Sophomore Forwad, 6.4 ppg)

34 Devoe Joseph (Junior Guard, 11.8 ppg)

50 Ralph Sampson III (Junior Center, 11.5 ppg)

Off the Bench

0 Al Nolen (Senior Guard, 9.0 ppg)

20 Austin Hollins (Freshman Guard, 4.2 ppg)

23 Chip Armelin (Freshman Guard, 4.2 ppg)

45 Colton Iverson (Junior Forward, 7.0 ppg)

Last Time Out

Leuer and Taylor each paced Wisconsin with 19 points and were part of a historic three-pointer showcase in an 80-53 blowout over Coppin State Thursday. The duo shot 9-for-18 from three-point range and the teams' 17 total three-pointers set a Kohl Center and school record in the process.

After the Badgers shot 10-for-17 from three-point range in their last outing against Green Bay, UW still felt comfortable with the deep ball. Of its first 15 shots, 12 were from three-point range and seven found the bottom of the net, helping UW build an early double-digit lead that was rarely threatened.

"We shot a lot of threes today … and guys were finishing underneath the basket," said Taylor, who added a team-high seven rebounds and six assists. "Individually and collectively, we've come a long way in a lot of different areas."

The accurate shooter of the group was Leuer, who hit a three-pointer on UW's first four possessions. In 2 minutes, 54 seconds, Leuer had 12 points, making a three-pointer from the top of the key, each wing and one with a hand right in his face, putting a wrench in Coppin State's 1-2-2 zone defense.

Of Wisconsin's 47 first-half points, 17 (36.1 percent) came from Leuer and 33 (70.2 percent) came from the three-points shot, including Gasser's three-pointer from the corner that beat the buzzer by one-tenth of a second.

UW finished with 17 assists to only five turnovers (none by UW's guards); ball movement that helped engineered the open looks.

Last Meeting

With no post presence inside, no outside feel and no energy in crunch time, No.14 Wisconsin turned in a lifeless performance, allowing Minnesota to get a signature win on its resume by blowing out the Badgers, 68-52, Thursday night, earning its third straight win in the series in front of a bipartisan crowd of 14,625.

With 6-foot-11 Ralph Sampson III and 6-foot-10 Colton Iverson shutting down the paint, Minnesota (15-10, 6-7 Big Ten) dared the Badgers to beat them from the outside, where the Gophers were second in the conference in defensive field goal percentage (40.2 percent).

After making 54.5 percent of its three-pointers in the first half, the results turned ugly for Wisconsin (19-7, 9-5), as the Badgers shot 26.3 percent (5-of-19) in the second half, allowing Minnesota to pull away by limiting Wisconsin to a season-low 30.5 shooting percentage.

The Gophers shot 47.6 percent for the game, had four players in double figures and were led by Hoffarber's 16 points, 12 of which came off the double screen and with Bohannon chasing closely behind.

Hughes led all scorers with 19 points but called his team's performance Thursday ‘unacceptable,' attribute to a unfocused week of practice.

Series Notes:

Wisconsin and Minnesota will be playing for the 189th time, making the Gophers the most played opponent in UW history.

Bo Ryan owns a 12-4 (6-1 at home) record against Minnesota, but the Gophers have won each of the last three match-ups.

The Gophers won the last match-up at the Kohl Center, a 78-74 overtime decision on Jan. 15, 2009.

With Ryan at the helm, Illinois and Purdue are the only teams to win back-to-back games at the Kohl Center. Illinois won in 2005 and 2006 and Purdue 2008 and 2009.

The Badgers' roster has four players from the state of Minnesota: Jared Berggren (Princeton), Mike Bruesewitz (St. Paul), Jon Leuer (Orono) and Jordan Taylor (Bloomington).

Minnesota Notes:

Big Ten openers have not been kind to Gophers the last 10 seasons. Minnesota will head into the tilt against the Badgers with a 4-6 record in those games.

Mbakwe has a total of seven double-doubles on the season, which are tied for sixth nationally.

The Gophers lead the Big Ten Conference in blocked shots and steals through 12 games. They have swatted 70 shots for an average of 5.83 bpg and swiped 106 balls for an average of 8.83 spg. Minnesota has led the conference in both categories the last two seasons.

Wisconsin Notes:

The Wisconsin football team will be playing in its ninth-straight bowl game when it takes on TCU in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 2011. Combine those nine straight appearances with the UW men's basketball team's 12 consecutive NCAA tournament invites and the Badgers are in a class by themselves.

UW is the only school in the country to make a bowl game and the NCAA tournament in every season since the 2002-03 academic year. Incredibly, the next-longest such streak is four years by both Michigan State and BYU.

The last time Wisconsin played in the Rose Bowl, following the 1999 football season, the Badger men's basketball team made the 2000 NCAA Tournament Final Four.

Wisconsin leads the Big Ten and ranks fourth in the nation allowing just 54.1 points per game. The Badgers are limiting foes to 38.8 percent shooting, which ranks third in the conference and 42nd nationally. The Badgers have held nine of their 12 opponents under 60 points this season.

The Badgers have won their seven home games this season by an average of 27.0 points per game. At home this year, UW is scoring an average of 79.7 points per game. The Badgers are shooting 49.9 percent from the field and 44.8 percent from 3-point range. In seven home games, Wisconsin has trailed for a total of 7 minutes and 17 seconds and has not been behind after 10 minutes into any game.

In 10 seasons at Wisconsin, Bo Ryan's teams have posted a 31-36 overall record vs. ranked opponents, including an impressive 21-7 mark at the Kohl Center. Last season, Wisconsin was 5-2 vs. ranked opponents, going 4-0 at home.

For the second straight season, Wisconsin leads the nation in fewest turnovers per game, coughing it up just 9.1 times per game. Boston College ranks second with 9.7 TOs per game. Michigan (10.5 TOs per game) owns the Big Ten's second-best mark.


In 2010-11, Wisconsin is a perfect 9-0 when shooting 45.0 percent or better from the field. The Badgers are also 9-0 when shooting a higher FG percentage than their opponents. Fans better hope that trend continued from three-point range, because Minnesota simply doesn't give up a lot inside. Look at those blocks per game and the size the Gophers possess inside. The Badgers were lauded before the season for having a deep backcourt, and this game will provide a phenomenal measuring stick right out of the conference gates.

Not only do the Badgers have to keep an eye on Iverson, Mbakwe and Sampson, the guards will have to contain Hoffarber, Joseph and Nolen, meaning this game will be the ultimate test.

Wisconsin has posted a 7-2 record in Big Ten openers during the Bo Ryan era, including wins in seven straight conference lid lifters. In Big Ten home openers, Ryan-coached teams are a perfect 9-0, winning those games by an average of 15.3 points per game. Only three of UW's last nine Big Ten home openers have been decided by a margin of 10 or less. This game will probably fall in that category.

The Badgers have been living by the three pointer but it order to win this game, Wisconsin will need to thrive in the post. Leuer got nothing going last year in his return from a wrist injury and will need to be more effective or, as Bruesewitz calls him, ‘Euro Jon' and make some tough shots to give his team a lift. The Badgers will also need to see production from their bench like we saw Thursday against Coppin State because depending on who is wearing the stripes, there could be a lot of whistled blown.

With Leuer on a tear, Taylor having good ball control, UW looking more and more comfortable against the zone, playing in front of the home crowd and not having that pompous Lawrence Westbrook on the floor, I think UW can pull out a seven-point victory.

Worgull's Record: 11-1

Points off Prediction: 98 (8.2 per game)

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