Preview: Northwestern at No.12 Wisconsin

After getting a fortuitous bank to beat Michigan, No.12 Wisconsin looks to honor its six seniors with a win and a season sweep over Northwestern on Sunday.

Northwestern (16-11, 6-10 Big Ten) vs. No.18 Wisconsin (21-6, 11-4 Big Ten)

Date/Time - Sunday, February 27, at 5 p.m. Central

Arena – Kohl Center (17,230)

Television - Big Ten Network (Wayne Larrivee and Tim Doyle)

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

Series – Wisconsin Leads 108-61 (UW leads 63-20 in Madison)

Last Meeting - Wisconsin won, 78-46, on Jan. 23, 2011 in Evanston, Ill.

Wisconsin Probable Starters

11 Jordan Taylor (Junior Guard, 17.9 ppg)

21 Josh Gasser (Freshman Guard, 5.7 ppg)

24 Tim Jarmusz (Senior Forward, 3.9 ppg)

30 Jon Leuer (Senior Forward, 19.1 ppg)

52 Keaton Nankivil (Senior Forward, 9.9 ppg)

Off the Bench

2 Wquinton Smith (Senior Guard, 0.4 ppg)

5 Ryan Evans (Sophomore Forward, 3.1 ppg)

15 Brett Valentyn (Senior Guard, 1.3 ppg)

31 Mike Bruesewitz (Sophomore Forward, 4.4 ppg)

33 Rob Wilson (Junior Guard, 1.7 ppg)

40 Jared Berggren (Sophomore Forward, 2.5 ppg)

Northwestern Probable Starters

1 Drew Crawford (Sophomore Guard, 12.4 ppg)

12 Luka Mirkovic (Junior Center, 8.2 ppg)

22 Michael Thompson (Senior Guard, 15.0 ppg)

23 Jershon Cobb (Freshman Guard, 8.0 ppg)

24 John Shurna (Junior Forward, 17.0 ppg)

Off the Bench

4 Alex Marcotullio (Sophomore Guard, 5.0 ppg)

30 Davide Curletti (Junior Forward, 3.6 ppg)

Last Time Out

As the horn sounded and the red lights around the basket came one, Gasser continued to admire his shot coming down from his apex. With a kiss off the glass and into the net, Gasser's 20 footer at the right wing helped No.12 Wisconsin escape with a 53-52 victory over Michigan Wednesday.

The victory allows Wisconsin (21-6, 11-4 Big Ten) to stay two games back of Ohio State and one game back of Purdue in the race for the Big Ten title and extends its winning streak to 10 games in the series.

"We knew they were one of the hottest teams in the league, if not the hottest," said senior Jon Leuer. "This is definitely a momentum-building win. It can turn the season into something special."

Trailing 52-50 with 30.8 seconds left and with Michigan (17-12, 7-9) having fouls to give, the Wolverines fouled four times to get the clock down to 5.4 seconds, setting up Gasser for the inbounds pass. Feeding Taylor at the top of the key, Taylor received an immediate double team and found Gasser, who has slipped underneath the defense, open on the perimeter with 1.4 seconds left.

"They switched and Josh rolled over the top, so I just tried to make a play going back to the middle," Taylor said. "Josh presented himself, through his arms straight in the air and he was hard to miss."

Gasser released the ball with 1.2 seconds on the clock, narrowly beating a charging Stu Douglass from the double team. From there, everybody seemed to have a different angle. UW Coach Bo Ryan knew it had to bank in and immediate drew a recollection to Brian Butch's game-winning three at Indiana Feb.08. Taylor thought it looked online and Gasser thought it was going to bank in. As it turns out, all three of them proved right on the money.

"We just had one more bucket in us than they did," Ryan said. "Jordan just made a better play than their double team."

After averaging 14 points last week and attempting three total 3-pointers, Taylor returned to form, finished with a game-high 20 points, including 3 of 6 from 3-point range, and contributing five assists and zero turnovers.

Leuer finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds, giving him 507 rebounds for his career and his sixth double-digit rebounding game of the season, four of which have come in the last seven games. He also finished with three assists and zero turnovers.

Throw in the 13 points from Keaton Nankivil, the Badgers big three scored 84.9 percent (45 of 53) of the team's points.

Last Meeting

Wisconsin guard Josh Gasser had a game to remember.

The Badgers' freshman had 10 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists for the first triple-double in school history, helping Wisconsin to a 78-46 victory over Northwestern on Sunday.

''Towards the last couple of minutes I had an idea that I was close and wanted just to get one more (assist) at the end,'' said Gasser, who got his final assist with 3 minutes to play. ''Fortunately Brett (Valentyn) knocked it down. He missed one before that and told me he was going to get another.''

Jon Leuer scored 19 points to lead a balanced attack for No. 18 Wisconsin. Keaton Nankivil had 16 points and Jordan Taylor added 14 as the Badgers (15-4, 5-2 Big Ten) won their third straight game to remain third in the conference standings.

John Shurna and Luka Mirkovic scored 13 points apiece for the Wildcats (13-6, 3-5).

The Badgers broke the game open midway through the opening quarter and put it out of reach early in the second half. The victory was the Badgers' most lopsided in the Big Ten this season and game them four wins in five games.

The Badgers shot 31 of 56 from the field (55.4 percent) and hit 12 of 26 3-point tries. The Wildcats were 17 of 41 (41.5 percent).

Wisconsin dominated statistically across the board, including advantages in rebounds (32-18), 3s (12-2), assists (22-9) and outscored Northwestern 11-0 on turnovers.

Series Notes:

Wisconsin has won 12 straight home games in this series, owning a 63-20 edge in Madison. Northwestern hasn't won in Madison since 1996.

The Badgers have won eight of the last nine match-ups overall against the Wildcats. UW has swept the season series in three of the last five years (2007, 2008 and 2010).

Head coaches Bill Carmody (11th season) and Bo Ryan (10th season) are two of the three longest-tenured coaches in the Big Ten (along with Tom Izzo, 16th season). Ryan is 13-4 all-time vs. Northwestern, with one of those losses coming as the head coach at UW-Milwaukee.

UW has out-rebounded Northwestern in nine straight games, by an average of 12.6 per game.

In his last three games against Northwestern, Taylor has averaged 13.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists.

Leuer has scored in double figures in each of his last four games vs. NW, averaging 14.3 ppg.

Northwestern Notes:

When Northwestern's Michael Thompson notched his 500th career assist Feb. 24 vs. Penn State, he joined Penn State's Talor Battle, Illinois' Demetri McCamey and Michigan State's Kalin Lucas as active Big Ten players with 1,500 points and 500 assists in their careers. Thompson is NU's all-time assists leader.

When the Wildcats tally at least 70 points this season, their record is 15-1. NU's record falls to 1-10 when it tallies 69 points or less.

Northwestern has long been known for its accurate 3-point shooting. The Wildcats sport a .379 3-point percentage this season. NU is also seventh nationally with an average of 9.1 made 3-pointers per game. Individually, Shurna is seventh in the nation with a .483 3-point percentage.

Northwestern's senior class has posted 61 wins over the last four seasons. With a victory over Illinois Feb. 5, this year's senior class earned its 59th career win to surpass last year's class as the winningest in Northwestern history. The 37 combined wins by the Wildcats over the previous two seasons are a school record for back-to-back campaigns. NU can match that mark with a win Sunday.

Wisconsin Notes:

Wisconsin is 15-0 at the Kohl Center this season, winning 18 straight overall and 36 of the last 37. That 18-game home win streak is the second longest in the Big Ten (Ohio State - 20) and tied as the 5th-longest in UW history. It is also tied for the 6th-longest active streak in the nation.

The Badgers currently own the NCAA's most efficient offense, averaging 1.19 points per possession. That figure is tied with South Dakota St. and surpasses runner-ups Kansas, St. Mary's and Ohio State who all own a mark of 1.18 ppp. During Big Ten play, Wisconsin ranks 5th in the Big Ten averaging 66.9 points per game.

Wisconsin is on pace to shatter three program records and challenge the all-time NCAA Division I records.

UW is shooting 82.8% from the free throw line. Harvard set the NCAA record at 82.2% in 1983-84.

Wisconsin is averaging a mere 7.70 turnovers per game. Temple set the NCAA-record with 7.72 turnovers per game in 2005-06.

The Badgers lead the nation with a 1.79 assist-to- turnover ratio. That would rank 2nd in NCAA annals behind West Virginia's record 2.01 ratio set in 2006.

Jordan Taylor is not only leading the nation with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 4.16, but that mark would also qualify as the greatest single-season ration in NCAA history. Utah State's Tyler Newbold set the NCAA record with a mark of 3.96 in 2008-09.

Prediction

At home this year, UW is scoring an average of 75.5 points per game and holding foes to 56.9 points. The Badgers are shooting 48.7 percent from the field and 44.3 from 3-point range at the Kohl Center. Northwestern has lost six of nine and won't make the NCAA Tournament yet again. Seriously, do you want me to break this game down?

I was happy to see my 16-game winning streak end with a Gasser bank shot, a win that might give UW a lift when it heads on the road for the rest of the season. What will give the Badgers a bigger lift is sending their six seniors out of the Kohl Center the right way, with a big, dominating, 23-point victory over Northwestern.

Worgull's Record: 25-2

Points off Prediction: 171 (6.33 per game)


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