(Preview from The Sports Network)
GAME NOTES: The Wisconsin Badgers will attempt to continue their recent dominance over the Michigan Wolverines, as the Big Ten Conference rivals will clash this evening in Madison.
Through 14 games, Michigan has posted 11 victories, an impressive start for a team that has been rather mediocre in recent years. Eight of the last nine outings have resulted in wins, including Sunday's 76-69 league bout against Penn State. That victory enabled the Wolverines to even their Big Ten mark at 1-1, as they were crushed by Purdue last week in an 80-57 margin.
Like Michigan, Wisconsin has split its two conference games thus far, and the most recent was a 69-61 road loss to Illinois on Sunday that halted a seven- game win streak. The Badgers are still a solid 11-3 overall, and they now return home where they are a perfect 8-0.
Michigan owns an 89-62 series lead over Wisconsin, but the Badgers have won the last eight meetings.
There is no question that Darius Morris has been the top offensive performer for Michigan so far this season, as he is netting 15.6 ppg on 50.9 percent shooting from the floor. In addition to his scoring ability, Morris has already handed out 106 assists through just 14 games, and he has committed 35 turnovers, a tremendous ratio. The only other double-digit scorer in the fold for Michigan is Tim Hardaway Jr., as he checks in with 10.9 ppg.
The Wolverines are generating 69.2 ppg while limiting opponents to 59.1 ppg on 39.5 percent field goal efficiency. In the seven-point triumph over Penn State last time out, Morris posted 20 points and 10 assists, playing 38 of a possible 40 minutes. Zack Novak pitched in 15 points, helping to offset a two- point showing by Hardaway Jr. The Wolverines connected on 57.4 percent of their field goal attempts in that tilt and hit all 14 of their free throws.
Not only does Wisconsin own the same overall and league records as Michigan, but the Badgers are also similar to the Wolverines in that there are two double-digit scorers on the roster. Jon Leuer paces his club with 19.5 ppg on the strength of his 46.6 percent three-point efficiency, and he is ripping down 7.3 rpg as well. Jordan Taylor checks in with 16.1 ppg, and he has handed out 69 assists.
The Badgers get the job done at the defensive end, limiting foes to 55.6 ppg on 39.9 percent field goal efficiency. Offensively, they are scoring a respectable 70.5 ppg. Both Leuer and Taylor had 19 points in the loss to Illinois last time out. In that game, Wisconsin connected on only 35 percent of its field goal attempts while surrendering 56.1 percent shooting to the Illini. A 17-9 deficit in points from the foul line and a 34-25 rebounding deficit also contributed to the loss.
Expect the Badgers to remain perfect at home, as they are always a tough team to beat in Madison. As usual, Leuer and Taylor will lead the way.
FACTS & STATS: Site: Kohl Center (17,142) -- Madison, Wisconsin. Television: Big Ten Network. Home Record: Michigan 10-1, Wisconsin 8-0. Away Record: Michigan 1-0, Wisconsin 1-2. Neutral Record: Michigan 0-2, Wisconsin 2-1. Conference Record: Michigan 1-1, Wisconsin 1-1. Series Record: Michigan leads, 89-62.
Wednesday, January 5th, 8:30 p.m. (et)
Wisconsin 77, Michigan 67