Breakdown: No.21 Wisconsin at No.15 Michigan

Looking for its ninth win away from the Kohl Center this season and hoping to knock off one of the conference's co-leaders, No.21 Wisconsin looks to avenge a January loss when it takes on No.15 Michigan at the Crisler Center Sunday afternoon. BadgerNation breaks down the matchup.

No.21 Wisconsin (20-5, 7-5 Big Ten) at No.15 Michigan (18-6, 10-2 Big Ten)

Date/Time -Sunday, February 15, 12 p.m. Central

Arena –Crisler Center (17,249)

Television -CBS (Spero Dedes and Bill Raftery)

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

Series – Michigan leads 88-69 (Michigan leads 54-20 in Ann Arbor)

Last Meeting - Michigan won, 77-70, on January 18, 2014 in Madison

Wisconsin Probable Starters

1 Ben Brust (6-1 Senior Guard, 13.2 ppg)

12 Traevon Jackson (6-2 Junior Guard, 10.7 ppg)

15 Sam Dekker (6-8 Sophomore Forward, 13.4 ppg)

21 Josh Gasser (6-3 Junior Guard, 8.7 ppg)

44 Frank Kaminsky (7-0 Junior Forward, 12.5 ppg)

Off the Bench

10 Nigel Hayes (6-7 Freshman Forward, 8.1 ppg)

13 Duje Dukan (6-9 Junior Forward, 2.6 ppg)

24 Bronson Koenig (6-3 Freshman Guard, 3.0 ppg)

Michigan Probable Starters

1 Glenn Robinson III (6-6 Sophomore Forward, 12.9 ppg)

10 Derrick Walton (6-1 Freshman Guard, 8.8 ppg)

11 Nick Stauskas (6-6 Sophomore Guard, 16.9 ppg)

23 Caris LeVert (6-5 Sophomore Guard, 12.5 ppg)

52 Jordan Morgan (6-8 Senior Forward, 4.9 ppg)

Off the Bench

2 Spike Albrecht (5-11 Sophomore Guard, 3.4 ppg)

15 Jon Horford (6-10 Junior Forward, 4.9 ppg)

21 Zak Irvin (6-6 Freshman Guard, 7.6 ppg)

Last Time Out

MADISON - Starting off both halves with thunderous dunks to ignite the 17,249 in attendance, Kaminsky's 17 points led No.21 Wisconsin to a 78-70 decision over Minnesota; the same Gophers team that throttled the Badgers in a wire-to-wire victory 22 days earlier.

"I think we were better prepared this time," said Kaminsky, who added six rebounds and a perfect 9-for-9 at the free throw line. "We didn't do much different. We just had to go out and execute on offense and defense. We had to do that from the opening tip, go out and make plays happen from the get go. Energy is contagious."

Senior Ben Brust scored a team-high 20 points, including making three 3-pointers, and freshman Nigel Hayes (15 points) scored in double figures for the fourth straight game for Wisconsin (20-5, 7-5 Big Ten), which stayed three games behind Michigan – who the Badgers will see Sunday afternoon in Ann Arbor - and Michigan State with six games left.

Sam Dekker added 10 points, giving UW four players in double figures for the 17th time this season. It was also the 17th time Wisconsin cracked the 70-point barrier.

"I just thought we were better," said UW coach Bo Ryan. "Working hard (and) reading and reacting to one another."

After scoring a school-record 43 points in the fourth game of the season, Kaminsky's commitment to the post had tapered off as of late, being held under double digits in four of the last six games. That included nine points in only 15 minutes against the Gophers after sitting most of the first half because of foul trouble.

Getting a dose of confidence back from his 10-point performance Sunday against No.9 Michigan State, Kaminsky helped lead the charge to reclaim the low post. After giving up a staggering 48 points in the paint, Wisconsin held Minnesota to only 20 points in the paint and 45.1 percent for the game, a stark turn round from the 66.7 percent the Gophers put on the Badgers in the second half previously.

"They did a great job of not allowing us to throw the ball in the paint, into the post, where we really had out way with that at home," said Minnesota coach Richard Pitino, who used the term "polar opposites" to describe UW's defensive performances in the two games. "They did a great job adjusting, that is why coach Ryan has won as many games as he has won. He really prepared them in that regard."

Minnesota (16-9, 5-7) started 5 of 9 from the floor, building a 14-7 lead with 13:19 left, but it was at that point the Badgers bucked up defensively, something it didn't do often during that stretch of five losses in six games.

Engineering a 15-3 run, Wisconsin held Minnesota to one free throw over 10 possessions while forcing six turnovers. The Gophers finished with nine turnovers in the first half and 13 for the game, a big difference compared to the seven turnovers in 57 possessions in the first meeting.

Mo Walker, who scored a career-high 18 points in the team's first meeting, spend the last 12:42 of the first half on the bench with a pair of fouls, while forwards Joey King and Elliott Eliason followed shortly after with two fouls each. That allowed Wisconsin to attack the basket early and often, helping UW score 18 points in the paint and go 30-for-36 from the free throw line.

- Benjamin Worgull, BadgerNation.com

Last Meeting

MADISON - Getting ready to steal another victory away from Michigan to continue its streak of dominance, Wisconsin successfully whittled a 15-point Wolverines lead down to two with just under two minutes to go, energizing a capacity crowd that had moaned and groaned for the better part of the evening.

But then Michigan sophomore Nik Stauskas got the matchup he wanted to bury the crushing 3-pointer, likely taking Wisconsin top-10 national ranking along with it.

After going 2-for-16 against the Badgers in two meetings a year ago, Stauskus scored a game-high 23 points and hit the key 3-pointer with 48 seconds left to propel unranked Michigan to a 77-70 victory Saturday afternoon, continuing No.3 Wisconsin's misery.

After starting a school-best 16-0, Wisconsin (16-2, 3-2 Big Ten) has dropped its last two and have fallen into a three-way tie for fourth place with Minnesota and Purdue, the two teams UW will play on the road in the next week.

"You have to keep moving forward," said junior Josh Gasser, who led Wisconsin with 16 points before fouling out. "We're in the Big Ten. It's the toughest conference for a reason, and you have to play really well to win games in this league … It's definitely a little different tastes in our mouths now."

The usually stout Wisconsin defense continues to leak. After surviving 41 offensive rebounds and 41 second-chance points in home wins against Iowa and Illinois, Wisconsin allowed Indiana to shoot 51.6 percent in Tuesday's 75-72 loss in Bloomington before watching Michigan (13-4, 5-0 Big Ten) – the conference's best field goal percentage offense at 48.4 percent – shoot 54.7 percent (a season-high against a UW opponent).

"You don't want to lose two in a row, especially on your home court," said Sam Dekker, who finished with 10 points on 5 of 13 and had 10 rebounds. "It's disappointing. We're a little bit embarrassed there when they took it to us in the first half and the beginning of the second half. We didn't respond well to what they did."

Michigan also shot 53.8 percent (7-for-13) from 3-point range, with the crushing shot coming off of Stauskas' hot hand. Wisconsin had chipped a 15-point lead down to one with 1:54 to go, setting the stage for what many thought would be another UW miracle win.

UW already had the banked 3-pointer by Gaser at the buzzer two years ago to steal out a 53-52 win at Ann Arbor, and had the memorable Brust half-court heave to force overtime 11 months ago.

Stauskas didn't allow that to happen. After misfiring from the right wing, Gasser was called for a foul underneath with 1:14 left and Michigan retained possession. That allowed Stauskus another shot, which he buried thanks to a mismatch to give Michigan a 71-67 lead with 48.2 seconds.

- Benjamin Worgull, BadgerNation.com

Series Notes

U-M's 77-70 victory snapped an 11-game losing streak in Madison, a span of 15 years. Michigan's 77 points marked the first time the Wolverines had reached 70 points against the Badgers since 2006, snapping a string of 13 straight meetings.

Wisconsin has won 12 of the last 14 meetings with Michigan overall, including a season sweep a year ago.

The Badgers have won in four of their last five visits to Crisler Center. UW won four straight from 2008-11, the team's longest road winning streak in the series. Michigan won the most recent matchup in Ann Arbor, 59-41, in 2012.

Under Beilein, the Wolverines have averaged 55.1 ppg against UW in 13 matchups.

Bo Ryan owns a 17-6 record against Michigan overall, which includes a mark of 11-2 vs. Michigan head coach John Beilein.

Ryan and Beilein rank 5th and 6th, respectively, on the career wins list among active Div. I coaches.

Wisconsin Notes

Three-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week Nigel Hayes has scored in double figures in four straight (15 vs. MN on Thursday). He leads all Big Ten non-starters averaging 10.9 ppg (.595 FG percent) in league play.

Wisconsin is 8-2 away from home this year, going a perfect 3-0 in neutral games and 5-2 in true road venues. Among Big Ten teams, only Michigan State has more road wins (6) and total wins away from home (10).

UW has now posted 20 wins for the 11th time in Bo Ryan's 13 seasons and the 8th-straight season. Among Big Ten teams, that equals Ohio State for the longest active streak of consecutive 20-win seasons.

Senior Ben Brust needs just nine points to become the 38th member of Wisconsin's 1,000-point club. He would be the 12th Badgers player to reach 1,000 points in the Bo Ryan era (13 seasons).

Wisconsin has had at least four players score in double figures in 17 different games this season. The Badgers have had five or more players in double digits in seven games.

Michigan Notes

Michigan has three players inching their way to 1,000 points. Jordan Morgan leads U-M with 856 career points (6.6 ppg). Nik Stauskas is second on U-M with 819 (13.2 ppg), and Glenn Robinson III is right behind at 738 (11.7).

Ohio State (14-3), Minnesota (13-2), Wisconsin (11-3), Nebraska (11-1) and Michigan State (10-2) have a combined 59-11 home record this season. Five of their combined losses have come at the hands of the Wolverines.

Michigan leads the Big Ten with a 76.0 team percentage, which is currently slotted as the best all-time in a season. The all-time mark for U-M was a 75.74 (412-for-544) percentage during the 2008-09 season.

Currently Michigan is the youngest team in the Big Ten, ahead of Indiana (12th) and Purdue (71st). The Wolverines are rated as the eighth youngest program according to statsheet.com's experience tracker.

Prediction

Through 25 games, the Badgers are posting offensive numbers that are on pace to rank as the best in the Bo Ryan era (since 2001-02). UW is averaging 73.2 points per game, an increase of 8.2 ppg from last season's 65.0-point average. UW hasn't averaged 73 points in a season since the 1994-95 team scored 73.0 per game.

Of course, UW was on pace to set those kinds of numbers in January when it lost five of six, including a heartbreaker at home to Michigan and an ugly win at Minnesota. UW was able to avenge the latter of which Thursday and has a chance to take care of more business tomorrow on the road.

Kaminsky said an embarrassing performance in Minneapolis was the main reason Wisconsin came out so aggressive against the Gophers on Thursday. After allowing the Gophers to dictate tempo, offense in the post and score on 20 of 26 possessions in the second half the first time, Wisconsin held Minnesota in check most of the night and scored 13 points off 13 turnovers.

"Frank and I didn't take too kindly to what happened when we played up in Minnesota," said Hayes, who combined with Kaminsky to go 14 of 15 from the free throw line. "We wanted to make sure this game they didn't establish that presence."

The same will have to be done against Michigan, which shot 54.7 percent against Wisconsin, hurt the badgers by driving into the post in the first half and hitting uncontested mid-range jumpers in the second half and let Stauskas take over.

Stauskas secured the Wolverines' victory by scoring the team's final 11 points of the game. He started his 11-point run by hitting a jumper in the lane. He then gave Michigan a four-point lead (71-67) with a step-back three with 48.1 seconds and converted six free throws down the stretch, leading the Wolverines to victory with a game-high 23 points (his eighth 20-point scoring effort of the season).

Stauskas continues to diversify his offense as he has evenly balanced his inside/outside production. Driving to the basket more this season, he is 57-for-107 on two point field goals (53.3 percent). From 3-point range, he leads the Big Ten, going 55-for-123 (44.7 percent), and is also one of conference's leaders from the free throw line as he is 110-for-134 at the charity stripe (82.1 percent).

This season UW is allowing 63.4 points per game which is 2nd in the Big Ten and 32nd nationally, but Ryan says that the defensive problems that perked up in January still haven't been fully corrected yet.

"Fix would mean none of those are happening ever again," said Ryan. "I'll let you know if that ever happens, but we're human. There are just ways that we can be better that it was just a matter once you got into the conference that they were going to be exposed."

Michigan is averaging 81.5 points per game and has outscored its opponents by +23.4 (58.0 ppg) at home, where it has just three losses over its last three seasons. Wisconsin fans will probably take a split this weekend at Ann Arbor and at Iowa City, but two losses seem more likely, which really won't affect its NCAA tournament status.

I like Michigan to win this game by 11.

Worgull's Record: 17-8

Points off Prediction: 221 (8.8 per game)


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