In beating Wisconsin soundly in the first meeting of the season three weeks ago, the Gophers were able to score at will in the post despite Andre Hollins suffering an injury within the first minute of the game. While the Badgers have fixed some of their defensive problems since the rough night in Minneapolis, they'll still need to be on point to slow down the Gophers' offense.
In this Badger Nation feature, we will look at the three keys or questions for Wisconsin to have success against Minnesota.
Lay up: Can Ben Brust have a bounce-back game?
Brust struggled mightily against Michigan State's length and size to get anything going on offense. Even though Brust struggled with his shot, he remained confident through out the game and kept shooting.
Brust, who scored eight points in the first meeting against the Gophers, will have to continue to shoot the ball. At times against Michigan State Brust rushed his shot by not squaring up or getting enough lift with the basketball, both easy things for Brust to fix in practice.
While the Badgers have received balance scoring amongst their starters, they haven't necessarily needed Brust scoring at times with the emergence of Nigel Hayes. Still Brust has been one of the more consistent three-point shooters for the Badgers, hitting multiple triples in 19 of 24 games and is second in the Big Ten with 2.5 treys a game. If Brust can get into a rhythm early, it will help open up the rest of the offense.
Mid-range jumper: How much has Wisconsin's defense improved since the first meeting?
Minnesota put on an offensive clinic the first time around against Wisconsin - shooting 58.9 percent from the field and averaging 1.42 points per possession, both season high for Wisconsin's opponents, as well as scoring 48 points in the paint. It's safe to assume that Minnesota will try and feed the basketball down low once again, or drive the ball to see if they can have the same success.
Over the last five games the Badgers have given up an average of 29.6 points in the paint, meaning they haven't completely solved the problem but are improving. Frank Kaminsky and Hayes will have to slow down Maurice Walker, who scored a career-high 18 points in the first matchup. Since playing Wisconsin, Walker has continued to be on a roll by recording three double-digit games over the last four games. However, the Gophers are 1-3 on that stretch.
The most encouraging sign of improved defense for the Badgers came when they held the Spartans scoreless in the last six minutes, 51 seconds in the first half, forcing 13 consecutive misses.
Wisconsin will need to be able to put together a similar performance where it can string stops on the defensive side.
3-pointer: Where has Frank Kaminsky been?
Kaminsky has been a bit passive as of late shooting the basketball. Instead of finding ways to get involved in the offense and stretching the floor, Kaminsky has been disappearing when he's out there on offense and not looking for his shot.
Kaminsky has to become more aggressive down low in order to get back on track. Hayes has found success driving to the bucket, drawing fouls and getting to the free throw line because he's been consistently aggressive. Kaminsky is definitely capable of doing that; he just needs to get back to where he was early in the season where he was a force down low.
In order for him to try and regain confidence on the low block, Kaminsky will have to avoid trouble. In the past two games Kaminsky, has picked up four fouls each time, which has limited his minutes. Kaminsky should be able to help slow down Walker by using his size to alter the Minnesota forward's shot. Kaminsky has recorded multiple blocks in the last four of five games, so he has shown that he can make life difficult around the rim.