Wisconsin (5-4; 1-0) vs. Rutgers (6-3; 0-1)
How To Watch, Listen, News & Notes
Where: The RAC (8,000 capacity) in Piscataway, New Jersey
Tip-off: Wednesday, December 11th at 7:00 p.m. ET
Travel Info: Alternate Traffic Pattern
Promotion: Faculty/Staff Knight & Student Section T-Shirts
TV: BTN - Brandon Gaudin and Stephen Bardo
Stream: FOX Sports App
Radio: Live Listen - Rutgers Sports Properties Radio Network (WCTC 1450 AM/WOR 710 AM/SiriusXM 372; Jerry Recco & Joe Boylan); WRSU 88.7 FM (Jake Ostrove & Raj Shah)
KenPom Rankings: Rutgers 75th; Wisconsin 49th; Rutgers stayed even since the loss to Michigan State.
Efficiency Rankings: Rutgers - Offense 103.5 (109th) Defense 93.2 (55th); Wisconsin - 105.2 (69th) Defense 91.3 (39th)
KenPom Prediction: Rutgers 63 Wisconsin 61; Rutgers has a 54% chance to win
Vegas Line: Rutgers -1.5
Series History: Wisconsin leads the all-time series 7-2, including a 69-64 victory in the last meeting on December 3rd, 2018 at the Kohl Center.
Wisconsin SB Nation site: Bucky’s 5th Quarter
Wisconsin Scouting Report
Head coach Greg Gard is in his fifth season in charge and the Badgers are just 5-4 so far. However, they just handed Indiana its first loss of the season this past weekend with a 84-64 victory. Wisconsin is a model of consistency as a program as they have finished in the top four of the Big Ten in 17 of the last 18 seasons and own the most wins in the conference during that stretch.
Wisconsin is led by 6’11” junior Nate Reuvers, who is averaging 15.4 points on 50% shooting, 5.2 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks per game. He can shoot from outside as well, as he is making 31% of his 29 shots from three-point range. Reuvers is paired in the frontcourt with 6’8” junior Aleem Ford, who is averaging 10.4 points and 5.0 rebounds per game.
The Badgers are a more perimeter focused team and feature four primary guards. 6’4” sophomore Kobe King has made a big jump this season and is coming off a 24 point game in the win over Indiana. He is averaging 12.1 points and 4.0 rebounds per contest. 6’4” junior Brad Davison has been the Badgers most steady player in recent seasons and averages 10.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. 6’0” junior point guard D’Mitrik Trice has struggled shooting wise at just 34.2% from the field, but is still averaging 8.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game. The only senior to play regularly is 6’3” Brevin Pritzl, who is chipping in 7.4 points and 4.8 rebounds per contest.
As a team, the Badgers only average 68.4 points per game and are shooting just 43.2% from the floor, 30.7% from three-point range and 78.7% from the free throw line. Defensively, opponents are only scoring 62.7 points per game against them.
No significant injuries for either team.
Notes: As a team, Rutgers is shooting 46.5% from the floor, 27.5% from three-point range, and 65.8% from the free throw line......The Scarlet Knights are second in the Big Ten in steals with 6.9 and turnovers forced at 15.0 per game, fourth in field goal percentage defense at 39.2%, as well as fifth in blocks at 5.1 and scoring defense at 63.0 points allowed per contest.....Rutgers is undefeated this season at the RAC (6-0) and limiting opponents to under 60 points per game (5-0).
Throwback Uniform Alert
Immediate reaction: Rutgers should wear these uniforms full-time. Love them.
Keys To Victory
Wisconsin Lives & Dies By The Three
The Badgers are pretty easy to figure out, as they’ve shot 39.2% from three-point range in its five wins, which includes blow out victories over the Hoosiers and Marquette, but just 20.0% in four losses. That includes a 9 point loss to New Mexico in which they scored just 50 points on 2 of 26 shooting from behind the arc. Even in back to back losses to Pitt and Michigan State last week, Rutgers is doing a better job defending the three, as those two teams combined to shoot just 12 of 37 from deep for only 32.4%. They need to close out on shooters on the perimeter, not allowing for any open looks and not get caught up in ball screens either. If they can defend the three well early and Wisconsin struggles out of the gate from three, it will help Rutgers assert control in the game.
The Rutgers bench had almost no production in the loss at Pitt and then carried the team in playing Michigan State close most of the way on Sunday. The latter performance needs to continue tonight as Rutgers has a deeper rotation than Wisconsin, which they need to use to their advantage. Akwasi Yeboah has given consistent scoring punch, Jacob Young has been good defensively and seemed to start to figure things out offensively in the last game, while Paul Mulcahy makes the Rutgers offense better with how he generates ball movement and can penetrate. Another key will be what Shaq Carter and Mamadou Doucoure bring off the bench, as Myles Johnson will have a tough battle with Nate Reuvers and will need help even if he can avoid foul trouble.
Wisconsin has an adjusted tempo rating of 62.6, which is 350th in Division I. They try to lull their opponents to sleep in the halfcourt and make the game a grind. While their turnover rate of 17.2% is 54th best nationally, they don’t turnover their opponents much (18.5%; 226th). Rutgers has a defensive turnover rate of 21.0% and with their athleticism around the perimeter, they have shown the ability to get into passing lanes and create fast break opportunities. Ball pressure and forcing Wisconsin into mistakes as they try and work the shot clock with multiple passes per possession is key. Also looking to run off of defensive rebounds with good outlet passes would help to. The more Rutgers can speed up the tempo, the more uncomfortable the Badgers will be.
That being said, Rutgers needs to keep their composure and play within themselves. They can’t be out of control and need to channel their adrenaline, as this will be the first home game of the season where the crowd will be a major factor. Especially on defense, Rutgers needs to stick with their assignments and limit any breakdowns in the halfcourt. Wisconsin will look to make Rutgers work hard defensively and they need to stay locked in and disciplined. Avoid excessive fouls, as the Badgers are great at the free throw line. On the flip side, they need to take care of the basketball and attack the Badgers with good ball movement and shots inside the arc, where they are shooting 55% from two-point range this season, 33rd best in the nation.
Punch Them In The Mouth
The RAC is almost sold out with only a few hundred tickets available, which may be gone by tip-off. Rutgers desperately needs to build confidence and tonight is the perfect opportunity to do so. They need to come out with energy and feed off the crowd, bringing defensive intensity from the opening tip and an attacking mindset on offense. This is the type of matchup if they can do that and shots aren’t falling for Wisconsin at the start, Rutgers needs to take advantage an establish a comfortable lead. They had this chance at Michigan State late in the first half, holding the Spartans scoreless for over four minutes, but they couldn’t generate enough offense to take control. It’s hopefully a lesson learned and if they can keep Wisconsin in check from the the outside, they will have major trouble overcoming a deficit close to double digits. If Rutgers wants to make a jump in the Big Ten standigs this season, they need to protect their homecourt and make the RAC truly a place that teams fear playing at. It starts tonight.
Appropriate Music Selection
For the tenth game of the season, I’m featuring Vicki Sue Robinson’s 1976 hit, Turn The Beat Around. This is the original version, not the cover made famous by Gloria Estafan and the Miami Sound Machine. In honor of Rutgers wearing their throwback uniforms from the 1976 Final Four season, I thought this was appropriate. The message is as well, as Rutgers looks to pickup its first quad one win of the season. This is a game they have to have to build confidence ahead of Saturday’s rivalry meeting with Seton Hall, as well as for the rest of Big Ten play.