Preview: Northwestern at No.14 Wisconsin

After a surprising setback against Minnesota Thursday, a game Trevon Hughes shouldered a lot of the blame, the senior guard looks to focus No.14 Wisconsin will a match-up against a Northwestern squad fighting for its first NCAA Tournament birth.

Northwestern (17-9, 6-8 Big Ten) vs. No.14 Wisconsin (19-7, 9-5 Big Ten) vs.

Date/Time - Sunday, February 20, at 1 p.m. Central

Arena – Kohl Center (17,230)

Television - Big Ten Network (Wayne Larrivee and Shon Morris)

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

Series – Wisconsin Leads 106-61 (UW Leads 62-20 in Madison)

Last Meeting – Wisconsin won, 60-50, on Jan. 13, 2010 in Evanston

Wisconsin Probable Starters

3 Trevon Hughes (Senior Guard, 15.5 ppg)

11 Jordan Taylor (Sophomore Guard, 9.7 ppg)

12 Jason Bohannon (Senior Guard, 12.2 ppg)

24 Tim Jarmusz (Junior Forward, 2.8 ppg)

52 Keaton Nankivil (Junior Forward, 8.7 ppg)

Off the Bench

5 Ryan Evans (Freshman Forward, 3.7 ppg)

30 Jon Leuer (Junior Forward, 14.7 ppg)

31 Mike Bruesewitz (Freshman Forward, 1.0 ppg)

33 Rob Wilson (Sophomore Forward, 3.5 ppg)

Northwestern Probable Starters

1 Drew Crawford (Freshman Forward, 11.1 ppg)

12 Luka Mirkovic (Sophomore Center, 7.8 ppg)

22 Michael Thompson(Junior Guard, 13.5 ppg)

23 Jeremy Nash(Senior Guard, 9.1 ppg)

24 John Shurna (Sophomore Forward, 17.8 ppg)

Off the Bench

4 Alex Marcotullio (Freshman Guard, 4.8 ppg)

54 Kyle Rowley (Sophomore Center, 2.0 ppg)

Last Meeting:

Hughes scored 14 of his 16 points in the final 6 minutes, 52 seconds to help No.13 Wisconsin – playing its first game without Leuer – out play a talented Northwestern club down the stretch to earn a hard-fought 60-50 victory in front of bipartisan 6,566 fans at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

Wisconsin (14-3, 4-1 Big Ten) didn't have a made field goal for 8 minutes, 2 seconds midway through the second half, a span that included 13 missed free throws from the floor, but were still in the thick of things due to the play of Bohannon (a game-high 19 points) and Taylor (10 points), who was making his first career start in place of Leuer.

Hughes was mostly a bystander, scoring only two points on two free throws, but the embers were starting to glow. With his team down 42-39, Hughes made his first bucket, a three from the right elbow. He was unconscious until the final horn sounded.

Hughes made a driving lay-up two possessions later and after Crawford sank a three pointer for Northwestern (12-4, 1-3), Hughes quickly answered on the sequence of the evening.

With Northwestern leading 48-46, Hughes missed a three-pointer but Taylor grabbed one of UW's 15 offensive rebound and swung the ball back to Hughes, who sank a three-pointer to give the Badgers a 49-48 lead with 4:54 to go. UW never trailed on the 14th and final lead change of the game.

Hughes hit three-pointers on UW's next two possessions, both on feeds from Taylor (one of the sophomore's seven assists), to give the senior 14 points in under four minutes of game time and push the lead to seven. When the dust had settled, Hughes scored 14 of UW's final 21 points and Northwestern was done for.

Shurna led Northwestern with 15 points, but the Wildcats, who entered the night as the Big Ten leader in scoring in conference games (73.7), were no match for the Badgers' defense and their Big Ten-low 52.3 points per game. The Wildcats made only two field goals in the final 14:36, allowing UW to close the game on a 14-2 run.

More importantly, Wisconsin snagged 12 straight rebounds (6 offensive, 6 defensive) until Northwestern got a meaningless rebound with only two seconds left on the game clock.

Last Time Out:

With no post presence inside, no outside feel and no energy in crunch time, No.14 Wisconsin turned in a lifeless performance, allowing Minnesota to get a signature win on its resume by blowing out the Badgers, 68-52, Thursday night, earning its third straight win in the series in front of a bipartisan crowd of 14,625.

With 6-foot-11 Ralph Sampson III and 6-foot-10 Colton Iverson shutting down the paint, Minnesota (15-10, 6-7 Big Ten) dared the Badgers to beat them from the outside, where the Gophers were second in the conference in defensive field goal percentage (40.2 percent).

After making 54.5 percent of its three-pointers in the first half, the results turned ugly for Wisconsin (19-7, 9-5), as the Badgers shot 26.3 percent (5-of-19) in the second half, allowing Minnesota to pull away by limiting Wisconsin to a season-low 30.5 shooting percentage.

The Gophers shot 47.6 percent for the game, had four players in double figures and were led by junior Blake Hoffarber's 16 points, 12 of which came off the double screen and with Bohannon chasing closely behind.

Hughes led all scores with 19 points but called his team's performance Thursday ‘unacceptable,' attribute to a unfocused week of practice.

Series Notes:

The Badgers have won six of the last seven match-ups. UW is looking for its third season sweep vs. NU in the last four years (doing so also in 2007 and 2008).

Under Ryan, UW is 7-0 at home vs. Northwestern, winning those games by an average of 19.7 points per game

NU, which played in the first-ever game in the Kohl Center on Jan. 17, 1998, has never won in that building (0-10).

Seniors Jason Bohannon and Trevon Hughes have had success against Northwestern over the last two years (three meetings). Bohannon has averaged 16.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists, while Hughes has averaged 13.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists over that span.

Wisconsin Notes:

During Sunday's game, Wisconsin will host a 10th anniversary celebration for the 1999-2000 men's basketball team that advanced to the Final Four. Members of the team, including former Badger head coach Dick Bennett will be introduced at halftime of the game. A video showing highlights from that magical season will also air during the on-court presentation.

The 1999-2000 team piled up a then-school record 22 wins en route to the school's first Final Four appearance since 1941. The Badgers were a No. 8 seed in the NCAA's West Region and knocked off ninth-seeded Fresno State, top-seeded Arizona, No. 4 seed LSU and sixth-seeded Purdue to advance to the Final Four in Indianapolis.

UW has shot over 50 percent from the field in three of its last five games and over 40 percent in 5 of its last 7 games, connected on 10 or more treys in four straight games and had more offensive rebounds than its opponent in four straight games.

Northwestern Notes:

At 17-9, Northwestern has matched the school record for regular season wins. The 1982-83 and 2008-09 squads each posted 17 regular-season victories. The Wildcats have started 7-1 in consecutive seasons for the first time in school history.

The Wildcats lead the Big Ten and are third nationally with averages of 9.42 3-point makes and 25.8 3-point attempts per game.

Northwestern is well known for playing "team" offense and that's reflected in the statistics. The Wildcats have assisted on 71.9 percent of their field goals this season, posting 434 assists on their 604 made baskets. The percentage ranks second in the nation.

Worgull's Prediction

I'll make this short and sweet. Wisconsin's effort Thursday was incredibly disappointing, uninspiring and made fans question what kind of impact this team will have in the NCAA Tournament. I think another game back for Leuer will help the Badgers find some rhythm. I believe playing at the Kohl Center for the second-to-last time will draw a big effort from the seniors. Lastly, I think Hughes is upset at himself for not being a leader last week in practice. All those things, I believe, will make Wisconsin get its 20th win with a 12-point victory over pesky Northwestern.

Worgull's Record: 19-7

Points off Prediction: 300 (11.5 per game)

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