I don't want to write a preview for this game. I'm sick to my stomach just thinking about it. I don't care what anybody else says, the Gophers need to win both remaining games to get into the NCAA tournament, and nobody would love to derail that chance more than the hated Badgers who come into Williams tonight.
While that awesome OT win in Madison (which I attended, by the way) was the high point of the Gophers season, things haven't been good since, with the Gophers just 4-7 since that game. Meanwhile for the Badgers, that came looked to have started a death spiral for their postseason hopes when they lost their next four to drop to 3-6 in the Big Ten. Unfortunately, Bucky seems to have found their footing and reversed the trend, having gone 6-1 since then, with their only loss on the road to Michigan State.
How are they doing it? Hell if I know. I tried to find a trend, but couldn't find anything. They held Penn State, Illinois, and Indiana to poor shooting nights, but both Iowa and Ohio State shot better than 50%. They turned Iowa and Ohio State over a bunch of times, but then forced seven or less against both Penn State and Michigan. And they massively outrebounded Michigan and Ohio State, but held no advantage over Penn State or Iowa and got killed on the boards themselves against Michigan State and Illinois.
Offensively it's a bit clearer. It's not shooting, since they shot well against Iowa and Michigan, but couldn't hit a thing versus Michigan St, Ohio St, or Illinois. It's pretty clearly their ability to take care of the basketball. In those past seven games, they've turned it over 8, 6, 6, 9, 5, 10, and 11 times. This does not bode well for the Gophers, who turned them over 17 times in the win in Madtown and need turnovers to score, since their halfcourt offense is reminiscent of a third grade girls game.
Beyond that, they are getting a different player stepping up each night, much like the Gophers used to before they sucked. Bohannon, Landry, Krabbenhoft, and Hughes have all led the Badgers in scoring in the last seven.
Interesting note, the Badgers never turn it over and never turn their opponents over, while the Gophers turn it over almost constantly and are also quite adept and turning their opponents over. Which style will prevail? It went the Gophers way in Madison, and they came out on top despite 18 turnovers.
We have two good defensive teams playing in a very important game going against two very inconsistent offenses. They're going to come out tight, and it's going to be an ugly game with neither team scoring much - I wouldn't be shocked if the winner barely breaks 50. The difference maker will come from the Gophers, and will be, once again, dependent on if they get the ball inside. Wisconsin is great at defending the three pointer, allowing opponents to make just 32%, but suffers when teams drive on them as we saw in Madison. The Badgers couldn't stay in front of the Gopher guards, and that was the difference in the game. Will/Can the Gophers stay with that gameplan, or will they, for the millionth game in a row, get frustrated, get out of rhythm, and stay out on the perimeter and chuck threes all game?
I hate to say this, it pains me, but I'm going to say no, and things will look familiar to fans in a hurry. The dream dies, and we look forward to welcoming Rhode Island to the Barn for a first round NIT game: Wisconsin 51, Minnesota 44.
Officially going to go back to the original 51-44 Badger win. This team is awful.