It’s a very important week for the Wisconsin Badgers basketball team as this week they will begin Big Ten conference play. Once again it is shaping up to be one of the toughest conferences in the nation and it’s crucial the Badgers get started on the right foot.
The No. 4 ranked Badgers (13-0) travel to Evanston, IL to take on the Northwestern Wildcats on Thursday, January 2nd. Leading the way for Wisconsin is sophomore sensation Sam Dekker, who is averaging 14.5 points per game and 6.2 rebounds per game. Frank Kaminsky is not far behind with 14.2 ppg for the Badgers.
Northwestern on the other hand has struggled this season, barely keeping their heads above water with a 7-6 record, with six of those victories coming at home. One of the lone bright spots for the Wildcats is senior Drew Crawford, who leading the team in scoring and rebounds per game averaging 16.4 and 7.8 respectively. For Northwestern to even have a fighting chance in this one, Crawford and sophomore Tre Demps (11 ppg) must play lights out.
I don’t see any reason why Dekker and the rest of the starting five for the Badgers will not be able to jump out to a big lead early and cruise to a victory against the Wildcats.
On Sunday the Badgers play host to 22nd ranked Iowa Hawkeyes (12-2) in what should be one of the first big tests for Wisconsin in conference play. The Hawkeyes are currently ranked second in points per game (88.7), third in rebounds per game (45.9) and fifth in assists per game (18.4). Iowa is led by Roy Devyn Marble who is averaging 15.3 points per game.
The Hawkeyes are a balanced team that could pose problems for Bo Ryan and the Badgers. For Wisconsin to come away with a victory and open up conference play with a 2-0 record, they must crash the boards on every shot and come away with the majority of the 50-50 balls. This should be a great early conference matchup to pay attention to.