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The Wisconsin Badgers and Michigan State Spartans will go up against each other for the second time this season. Michigan State bested Wisconsin 86-74 in that game as the road team.
Wisconsin started the season off well but have not been able to maintain that same level of success in conference play. They barely beat unranked Penn State last week and lost to Michigan State and Illinois earlier in the season. The Badgers are led by one of the best players in the nation, Johnny Davis. Davis scores at will and is also an efficient rebounder. After Davis, guard Brad Davison is their next best scorer. Davison is putting together a nice season but is overshadowed by Johnny Davis. Wisconsin may have the best player in this game (Johnny Davis), but they are not as well-rounded as Michigan State.
Michigan State has been playing mediocre basketball lately. They were crushed in their last game against unranked Rutgers 84-63. With that being said, they still have a nicely balanced roster. Forwards Gabe Brown, Malik Hall, and Marcus do a lot of the heavy lifting for this Spartans squad. They score a combined 32.8 points per game and are all efficient shooters. In addition to those three forwards, guard Max Christie also contributes ten points per game. The Spartans are the better team at this very moment and playing at home, so I have to pick them to win.
|Greg Gard||Head Coach||Tom Izzo|
|18-4 (9-3, 3rd in Big Ten)||Standing||17-5 (8-3, 4th in Big Ten)|
|Leader (Per Game)|
|Johnny Davis (20.5)||PPG||Gabe Brown (13.1)|
|Johnny Davis (8.3)||RPG||Marcus Bingham Jr. (6.8)|
|Johnny Davis (2.5)||APG||A.J. Hoggard (4.8)|
|Johnny Davis (1.2)||SPG||Tyson Walker (1.3)|
|Tyler Wahl (0.9)||BPG||Marcus Bingham Jr. (2.6)|
|Tyler Wahl (.514)||FG%||Julius Marble II (.610)|
|Lorne Bowman II (.407)||3P%||Tyson Walker (.543)|
Wisconsin may be the underdogs to win this game, but they have an advantage over Michigan State. They are more guard-heavy, so they can create better ball movement and create more turnovers. It is crucial that they do both of these things to win.
Even though Wisconsin is guard-heavy, they do not pass the ball a lot. They only average 11.2 assists per game, almost five less than Michigan State. They need to pass more against this bigger Michigan State team.
Wisconsin does not create many turnovers. They only average 5.1 steals per game. However, they are the smaller team in this matchup and will likely have many opportunities to pick Michigan State’s pocket. They need to look for those opportunities to limit Michigan State’s scoring chances.
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Michigan State is the favorite to win this game, but it will still be a close matchup. They need to stop Johnny Davis and protect the rim to secure the win.
Not only is Johnny Davis having a great season, but his best games often come against strong opponents. He had 22 points and 15 rebounds against Illinois last week and 25 points against Michigan State earlier in the year. Since Davis thrives in big games, Michigan State has to focus a lot of energy on him and force him to take bad shots. That may be the key to them winning the game.
Michigan State must protect the rim to win this game. This should not be too difficult; the Spartans average six blocks per game and are the bigger team. However, it is still important that they do not allow them to score at the hoop and force them to take outside shots.
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Guard Brad Davison is having an impressive season. He is a big part of Wisconsin’s success and their second-leading scorer with 15 points per game.
It is hard to explain Davison’s impact on this team. To put it best, I would say he is like Scottie Pippen, and Johnny Davis is like Michael Jordan. Jordan always overshadowed Pippen, but it is very likely that the 90’s Chicago Bulls would not have won any of their six championships without Pippen.
Pippen, I mean Davison, needs to have a big game as the #2 scorer for Wisconsin if they want to win. If he cannot score efficiently, they will likely not pull out a victory.
Forward Gabe Brown is not a star, but he is a really good ball player. He is averaging 13.1 points and 4.5 rebounds per game in almost 30 minutes per game.
Brown is particularly impressive because he shoots very well. He shoots 42.9% from the field, 38.6% from behind the three-point line, and 90.4% from the free-throw line. The 6’8 senior needs to look for his shot and not be afraid to drive to the hoop and draw fouls.
Defensively, Wisconsin has to keep him away from the free-throw line.
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|No. 14 Wisconsin vs No. 17 Michigan State Information|
|What||No. 14 Wisconsin vs No. 17 Michigan State|
|Where||Breslin Center, East Lansing, Michigan|
|When||Tuesday, February 8, 7:00 PM EST|
|How to Watch||Big Ten Network|
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Max Heering graduated from the University of Kansas Sport Management program in May 2020. Max follows and writes about the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS, college football, and college basketball. In his free time, you can catch Max draining threes on the basketball court. Email: [email protected]More info on Max Heering
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