Breakdown: No.6 Wisconsin vs. Michigan

In the only meeting between the two programs in the regular season, No.6 Wisconsin heads to Ann Arbor to take on Michigan tonight. BadgerNation takes a closer look at the Badgers' impressive assist-to-turnover ratio and breaks down the matchup.

No.6 Wisconsin (17-2, 5-1 Big Ten) vs. Michigan (12-7, 5-2 Big Ten)

Date/Time -Saturday, January 24, 6 p.m. Central

Arena –Crisler Arena (13,751)

Television -ESPN (Dan Shulman, Jay Bilas and Shannon Spake)

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

Series – Michigan leads 88-70 (Michigan leads 54-22 in Ann Arbor)

Last Meeting – Wisconsin won, 75-62, on February 16, 2014 in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Wisconsin Probable Starters

10 Nigel Hayes (6-8 Sophomore Forward, 12.5 ppg)

15 Sam Dekker (6-9 Junior Forward, 12.6 ppg)

21 Josh Gasser (6-4 Senior Guard, 7.2 ppg)

24 Bronson Koenig (6-4 Sophomore Guard, 5.6 ppg)

44 Frank Kaminsky (7-0 Senior Forward, 16.9 ppg)

Off the Bench

3 Zak Showalter (6-2 Sophomore Guard, 2.7 ppg)

13 Duje Dukan (6-10 Senior Forward, 6.5 ppg)

30 Vitto Brown (6-8 Sophomore Guard, 2.8 ppg)

Michigan Probable Starters

2 Spike Albrecht (5-11 Junior Guard, 4.9 ppg)

10 Derrick Walton (6-0 Sophomore Guard, 10.4 ppg)

21 Zak Irvin (6-6 Sophomore Guard, 13.7 ppg)

24 Aubrey Dawkins (6-6 Freshman Forward, 3.5 ppg)

32 Ricky Doyle (6-9 Freshman Forward, 6.9 ppg)

Off the Bench

3 Kameron Chatman (6-7 Freshman Forward, 3.9 ppg)

12 Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (6-4 Freshman Guard, 1.4 ppg)

34 Mark Donnal (6-9 Freshman Forward, 3.9 ppg)

44 Max Bielfeldt (6-7 Senior Forward, 3.5 ppg)

Last Meeting

Winning its sixth game against an Associated Press top 25 team, the most in the nation, No.21 Wisconsin led wire-to-wire in a 75-62 victory over No.15 Michigan at the Crisler Center.

Junior Frank Kaminsky registered his first career double-double in the opening minutes of the first half and finished with 25 points, 17 coming in the second half and 10 in the final six minutes after Wisconsin (21-5, 8-5 Big Ten) saw its 16 point lead cut to three.

Sam Dekker gutted through a sprained hand to score 15 points and Josh Gasser added 13 points, including going 3-for-4 from the field. Through their difficult February stretch, the Badgers have won four straight – the longest winning streak in the conference – and find themselves two games back of the Wolverines (18-7, 10-3 Big Ten) and Michigan State, who suffered a 60-51 home upset to Nebraska Sunday.

Averaging 81.5 points per game at home, Michigan was held to a season-low 62 points at home on 40 percent shooting. It was just the Wolverines’ fourth home loss in the last three seasons.

“It was probably our best game of the year in terms of what we did against a real good opponent on their court,” said assistant close Gary Close. “I thought we played very unselfishly and played Wisconsin basketball right from the start. I thought we were sharp right from the beginning.”

The Wolverines cut an 18-point deficit to three in the second half, but Kaminsky went on a 7-2 run after that, helping Wisconsin regain control for good. UW built the lead back up to 15 by making its last 11 free throws and committing a season-low two turnovers.

“That was impressive as anything,” said Close. “They made a great run. The place is going crazy and we just kind of regroup, and did the things we had done leading up to that. I thought that was a classic Wisconsin game.”

The Wolverines got 25 points from Cavis LeVert, who almost signal handedly brought Michigan back in the second half, but the Badgers frustrated Nik Stauskas, who managed only 11 points on 4-for-11 shooting. Stauskas torched the Badgers in Madison with a game-high 23 points, including scoring the last 11 points.

In much the same way Wisconsin established its dominance against Minnesota Thursday, the Badgers’ 14-4 run over the first five-plus minutes was set up by touches in the post.

Wisconsin started 6-for-7 from the field, including making six straight attempts after its opening-possession miss, and finished the first half outscoring Michigan 16-4 in the paint, going 8-for-19 on such shot attempts. UW finished with 32 points in the paint compared to 14 for Michigan.

- Benjamin Worgull, BadgerNation.com

Last Time Out

Facing only its second ranked opponent of the season, Wisconsin put on a 40-minute clinic, putting four players in double figures, committing only one turnover in 52 possessions and holding Iowa to 28 percent shooting in the first half in a dominant 82-50 victory Tuesday night.

In a series where the last five meetings were decided by five points or less, the 32-point margin of victory was the Badgers biggest in a series that dates back to 1909.

“Josh said something to us … that we haven’t put together a complete 40 minutes yet this season, and he wanted us to continue that in the second half,” said junior Sam Dekker, who led all scorers with 17 points. “I think we were as close to a complete 40 minutes as we’ve been all year, and I think we’re pretty happy with how we played defensively in the second half.”

As a result there were a lot of positives for Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan to take away. UW survived Iowa’s pressure defense and half-court press by tying the school record for fewest turnovers, had 16 assists on 29 made buckets and used the 3-point shot early in the first half to start building a lead that eventually swelled to 34 points.

If he had to pick one thing, however, Ryan always reverts back to team defense.

“I thought we did a lot of good things helping one another defensively,” he said. “You don’t hold a team like that for that long without having guys really buying in and doing their job. I mean Iowa’s good on both ends of the floor. It was nice to see our guys listen to the instruction and make the opposition score in different ways.”

Concerned with the Hawkeyes’ length on the interior, it turned to be smoke and mirrors with the Badgers’ redwood lineup. Dekker, Nigel Hayes (16 points) and Frank Kaminsky (13) combined to score 26 of UW’s 32 points in the paint.

Kaminsky also secured 11 rebounds for his Big Ten-leading eighth double-double of the season, as UW won the rebounding battle 37-24 and secured 15 offensive rebounds.

Making its first appearance in the AP Top 25 this season, Iowa (13-6, 4-2 Big Ten) was a perfect 3-0 in true road games this season, including wins over a pair of ranked teams in No.12 North Carolina and No.18 Ohio State, but the Hawkeyes were rattled and dazed by a fundamentally sound Wisconsin squad.

Iowa scored four points on its first two possessions and 13 on its final 24 possessions, resulting in an ugly 28 percent from the floor, 2-for-4 from the free throw line and 1-for-7 (14.3 percent) from the 3-point line.

That 3-pointer was a shot just past half court by Jarrod Uthoff as the buzzer sounded, about the only thing that went right for the Hawkeyes in the first 20 minutes.

Iowa shot 61.9 percent in the second half but trailed by as many as 34 points and only had one player – Uthoff (12 points) – score in double figures as the Wisconsin machine kept operating at full capacity.

- Benjamin Worgull, BadgerNation.com

Series Notes

UW has won 13 of the last 15 meetings with Michigan overall, including five of its last six visits to Crisler Arena. UW won 4 straight from 2008-11, the team’s longest road winning streak in the series.

In a 77-70 win at the Kohl Center last season, Michigan reached 70 points for the first time since 2006 against Wisconsin, snapping a string of 13 straight meetings. Under Beilein, the Wolverines have averaged 55.6 ppg against UW in 14 matchups.

Bo Ryan owns an 18-6 record against Michigan overall, which includes a mark of 12-2 vs. Michigan head coach John Beilein.

Ryan (721 wins) and Beilein (712 wins) rank fifth and sixth, respectively, on the career wins list among active Div. I coaches.

As a freshman in 2011, Josh Gasser hit a game-winning 3-pointer as time expired to boost UW to a 53-52 win at Crisler Arena.

Wisconsin Notes

Wisconsin is also off to a 5-1 start in Big Ten play. This marks just the 4th time in the last 50 years that the Badgers have opened the conference season 5-1 or better. All 4 occurrences have come under Bo Ryan (2004, 2007 and 2008).

In league play, UW also leads the league in FG percent and 3FG percent, shooting 50.2 percent from the field and 39.7 percent from behind the arc. The Badgers have 5 players shooting over 50 percent in Big Ten action (min. 20 FGAs).

Wisconsin now has the top 4 offensive Points Per Possession (PPP) performances so far of any team in Big Ten play: 1.52 (vs. Iowa) 1.40 (vs. PSU) 1.29 (vs. Neb) and 1.27 (at NW).

UW has also won 125 of its last 127 games when shooting a higher FG percentage than its opponents, including a mark of 15-0 this season and 19-1 last season.

Wisconsin is allowing just 54.6 points per game, the top mark in the Big Ten and 5th nationally.

Michigan Notes

On Jan. 18), Beilein announced the loss of junior guard Caris LeVert for the remainder of the season with a left foot injury. He underwent surgery on Wednesday (Jan. 21). LeVert suffered the injury on the final play of U-M's game against Northwestern, landing awkwardly going up for a rebound.

With a 5-2 Big Ten record this season, Michigan is 20-5 record in conference games over the last two seasons.

So far this Big Ten season, U-M has had five second-half comeback victories, including three by nine points or more.

Spike Albrecht is closing in 100 career games as he has played in 94 in three seasons. He’ll become the 61st Wolverine to reach the century mark in their career. Albrecht's former teammate Jordan Morgan holds the all-time record at 142.

Michigan has rotated is low-post presence between redshirt freshman Mark Donnal, freshman Ricky Doyle and senior Max Bielfeldt. With each game, the U-M "Big Men" continue to gain more experience. Playing in all 19 games, Donnal started the fi rst 10 games, while Doyle has got the nod in the last nine games. Bielfeldt has come off the bench in 17 games this season and played 56 in his career

Prediction

The players have changed from the time Bo Ryan has started coaching the University of Wisconsin to now, but the principles have not. UW fans know them by heart: sound defense, strong passing and impeccable fundamentals.

Finishing a league game with only one turnover for the second time in the last five years is ‘phenomenal,’ according to associate head coach Greg Gard, but shouldn’t be a super shock to the system.

“It’s something that if you look at the core of this program is something we emphasize every single day,” said Gard. “That’s the discipline, the focus and the wherewithal to understand that that’s how important those things are. Whether you watch us in March prepare for tournament play or workouts in May, turnovers and taking care of the ball, things that don’t take talent, are always things that are emphasized.

“People able to pass and catch and make good decisions has nothing to do with how high you can jump and how fast you can run. It’s something that’s been ingrained as one of the pillars of this program and give us a chance to be successful.”

Wisconsin’s assist-to-turnover ratio is sparkling. Leading the nation with only 7.8 turnovers a game (a category UW has led the nation in three times in the past five years and never outside the top four during that stretch), Wisconsin is third in the nation with a 1.66 assist-to-turnover ratio (246-to-148).

UW of course gets a lot of good play from its guards. Gasser only has 10 turnovers in 559 minutes this season and Koenig’s 4.33 ratio is second in the nation among guards with at least 30 assists, but the real strength has been the work in the low post.

Since conference play began, Hayes and Kaminsky have combined for 34 assists and only 11 turnovers (3.09 per game). Hayes (3.7) ranks third, Kaminsky (2.7) ranks fourth and the other eight players in the top 10 are all guards.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Gasser. “Frank and Nigel are just so good at basketball. People are always looking at how many points and rebounds someone is averaging, but what they do, especially Frank, in other facets of the game, like rebounding, protecting the rim, screening a guy open, making the extra pass, that don’t go on the stat sheet is what makes them so good. It’s why we’re winning games.”

Gard describes his group as that’s multi-dimension, unselfish and have a great feel for the game. That gives Wisconsin an edge when it faces teams, like Michigan, that are stingy defensively. Since Big Ten play began, the Wolverines are holding opponents to 60.7 points per game. It will likely be Michigan’s calling card for the near future as the Wolverines adjust to leading scorer Caris LeVert being done for the season with a foot injury.

“The personnel is just different,” Gasser said of Michigan without LeVert. “It’s about going back and looking at individuals. Maybe they are going to be a little bit more aggressive this time. Coach Beilein has got his system and he’s going to run in. Defensively they might be a little different. They might zone more. We’re preparing for everything.”

Wisconsin is playing with good deal of rhythm and flow when it has Kaminsky and company on the floor. Even on the road, the Badgers should be able to take advantage of an injured Michigan team for a 13-point win.

Worgull's Record: 17-2

Points off Prediction: 166 (8.7 per game)


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