Preview: Wisconsin vs. Northwestern

Although the Badgers have won five straight games over Northwestern, nothing is a given anymore. With Wisconsin losing five straight games for the first time since 1998 and having historically struggled in Evanston, however, nothing is a given anymore for Wisconsin basketball.

Wisconsin (12-8, 3-5 Big Ten) vs. Northwestern (11-7, 3-5 Big Ten)

Date/Time - Saturday, Jan. 31 at 7:00 p.m. Central

Arena – Welsh-Ryan Arena (8,117)

Television - Big Ten Network (Dave Revsine and Jimmy Jackson)

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

Series – Wisconsin Leads 105-60

Last Meeting - Wisconsin won, 74-45, on January 7, 2009 in Madison

Wisconsin Probable Starters

1 Marcus Landry (Senior Forward, 12.9 ppg)

3 Trevon Hughes (Junior Guard, 12.3 ppg)

12 Jason Bohannon (Junior Guard, 10.6 ppg)

45 Joe Krabbenhoft (Senior Forward, 8.5 ppg)

52 Keaton Nankivil (Sophomore Forward, 5.2 ppg)

Off the Bench

11 Jordan Taylor (Freshman Guard, 1.8 ppg)

24 Tim Jarmusz (Sophomore Forward, 3.0 ppg)

30 Jon Leuer (Sophomore Forward, 9.0 ppg)

33 Robert Wilson (Freshman Forward, 2.0 ppg)

Northwestern Probable Starters

20 Craig Moore (Senior Guard, 14.2 ppg)

22 Michael Thompson (Sophomore Guard, 10.8 ppg)

24 John Shurna (Freshman Forward, 7.3 ppg)

44 Kevin Coble (Junior Forward, 16.1 ppg)

54 Kyle Rowley (Freshman Center, 4.2 ppg)

Off the Bench

5 Jeff Ryan (Junior Guard, 2.7 ppg)

12 Luka Mirkovic (Freshman Forward, 2.9 ppg)

21 Ivan Peljusic (Sophomore Forward, 2.9 ppg)

23 Jeremy Nash (Junior Guard, 2.3 ppg)

Last Time Out

The Wisconsin men's basketball team has been in this situation quite a bit lately – being so close down at the end with a chance to win.

The Badgers have also experienced the same outcome quite a bit lately.

Wisconsin lost to Purdue 64-63 on Tuesday night, its fifth game in a row – the first time since 1998 and the first time in UW head coach's career since his first season at UW-Platteville in 1984-85.

Aided by a career-high 21 points from Keaton Nankivil, the Badgers were able to gain a lead as large as five points midway through the second half. Nankivil was on fire, shooting a perfect 5-of-5 from 3-point range and had the sold-out Kohl Center crowd of 17,230 wondering, ‘How could Wisconsin possibly lose this one?' late in the game.

Well, as has been the case as of late, Wisconsin found a way.

After Wisconsin grabbed a five point lead with 4:46 to play, Purdue rallied and went on an 11-2 run to put the Badgers in the all-too-familiar position of having to make a play in the closing seconds.

Robbie Hummel hit a go-ahead three-pointer to give the Boilermakers the lead and E'Twaun Moore scored 17 points to lead Purdue.

Down 62-60, the Badgers had that chance after Chris Kramer missed a one-and-one free throw with 22 seconds remaining. Ryan called a timeout to set up Wisconsin's play to either take the lead or tie it up and hope for overtime.

However, the Badgers were unable to find a look, forcing Jordan Taylor to drive to the basket and try to make a play. Taylor missed a tough lay-up and JaJuan Johnson grabbed the rebound before he was fouled, sealing the victory with two free throws.

Last Meeting

Jason Bohannon gave Wisconsin one way to beat Northwestern's pesky defensive zone and its Princeton offense. Jon Leuer, Marcus Landry and Joe Krabbenhoft provided others on Wednesday night. Combine all those different faucets together and the Badgers made life pretty tough in their annual dismantling of the Wildcats.

With the Badgers winning their 11th straight home game over the Wildcats, this time with a 74-45 victory, the largest victory over Northwestern in six years, Wisconsin (11-3, 3-0 Big Ten) did so by pinpointing all the flaws in the 1-3-1 zone of the Wildcats.

It started with Bohannon, who scored a career-high 20 points but doing it in unconventional ways. Known for his three-point shooting and free throws, 10 of Bohannon's points came from driving into the holes in the zone and converting layups off the glass.

It continued with Leuer, who added 15 points, three blocks, two steals and a collegiate-high eight rebounds, and kept going by Landry, who finished with 12 points - his third straight game in double figures, and Krabbenhoft, who tied Leuer with eight rebounds, until Northwestern was down 30 points late in the second half.

The Badgers got 30 points from the post, 18 points from the perimeter and 14 from the free throw line, a balanced scoring effort which led to Wisconsin shooting 50 percent from the field, the fourth game this season in which the Badgers have shot 50 percent or better.

Wisconsin also was far from selfish, dishing out 16 assists between six players, including a career-high five from Bohannon.

Series Notes:

This will be the 166th meeting between Wisconsin and Northwestern in a series that dates back to 1910

UW leads the all-time series, but NU holds a narrow 37-36 advantage in Evanston

The Badgers have won seven of the last eight meetings overall and five straight

Bo Ryan owns a 3-3 record at Welsh-Ryan Arena, but his Badgers have won in each of the last two trips to Evanston

The losing team has scored 60 points or less in each of the last 22 meetings between the teams

Wisconsin Notes:

Wisconsin is ranked 29th in the nation in RPI according to RealTimeRPI. com. UW also owns the No. 1 toughest strength of schedule in all of college basketball.

The Badgers have played eight games against teams ranked in the AP top 25, more than any other school in the country. UConn, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Syracuse have all faced seven ranked foes.

The Wisconsin coaching staff will take part in the 2009 Coaches vs. Cancer Suits and Sneakers awareness weekend this Saturday at Northwestern. Head coach Bo Ryan and his staff will be wearing tennis shoes with their suits to raise awareness about the fight against cancer and the American Cancer Society.

Wisconsin has had good luck in sneakers over the last few years, winning the last three Suits and Sneakers games by an average of 16.0 points per game. Last season the Badgers won at Minnesota, 63-47, topped Iowa 74-62 in 2007 and won at Penn State by an 82-62 margin in 2006.

The Badgers are averaging 65.9 points per game during Big Ten action, which is the fifth-highest in the conference ranks. The Badgers have scored at least 65 points in five of eight conference games this year, no school in the Big Ten has posted more than five games of 65 or more points.

Wisconsin has used a balanced offensive attack all season. Six different Badgers have led the team in scoring in an individual game and seven different players have paced UW in rebounds. Wisconsin has also seen eight different players register a double-digit scoring game this season.

Northwestern Notes:

Northwestern's 9-2 home record entering Saturday night's contest ranks as a tie for the team's best home mark through 11 games in Bill Carmody's nine seasons as head coach.

Of Northwestern's 418 made field goals this season, the team has assisted on 284 of them or 67.9 percent. That mark ranks third nationally.

The lack of an inside presence hurt Northwestern in many ways last season, including allowing opponents to shoot 48.3 percent from the field, including 39.2 percent from 3-point range. So far this year, the Wildcats' foes have shot a combined 41.1 percent from the field and have committed an average of 15.8 turnovers per game.

Northwestern has handed out 284 assists while committing just 208 turnovers this year for an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.37. The mark ranks second in the Big Ten and ninth nationally in the category through games played Thursday. The Wildcats ranked third in the country last season with a 1.43 team assist-to-turnover ratio.

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