There’s a lot on the line from here on out for the Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team, who’ll tip-off their Big Ten season tonight in Evanston, Ill.
Aside from the perfect record thus far, Sconnie will also be in search of their 11th consecutive win to open Big Ten play.
At 13-0, UW has posted its best start in the last century. You have to look back to 1913-14 when Bucky started off the season 15-0. UW’s done their work so far this season against the nation’s 7th-toughest schedule.
Currently ranked No. 4 in the nation, it’s only the second time in the programs history UW has climbed into the AP top 5.
They’ll be starting their trek toward Big Ten title No. 18 tonight against upset-minded Northwestern (7-6) who after consecutive wins over Western Michigan, Mississippi Valley State and Brown, fell in their most recent contest vs. DePaul, 57-56.
Redshirt senior Drew Crawford will be the focal point defensively for the Badgers. Alongside Tre Demps, who scored 16 of his career-high 23 points in the second half against DePaul last Friday, he’s the most formidable scorer for the Wildcats offensively.
Statistically, this isn’t one of Wisconsin’s most demonstrative opponents.
Wisconsin has gotten out to their 13-0 start by defeating their opponents by an average of 14.5 points per contest. They are nearly plus five on the rebounding line every game and are plus 2.5 in the assist to turnover ratio.
The Badgers wrapped up nonconference play with an 80-43 home win over Prairie View A&M on Saturday behind 16 points and 11 rebounds from Sam Dekker.
The play of Nigel Hayes opened many peoples eyes. His 10 points, four rebounds, three blocks and one steal in 16 minutes help propel him to Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors.
Game time tonight is set for 6 p.m. CST and will be televised on ESPN2.
OWNING THEIR SCHEDULE - According to ESPN’s RPI, the Badgers own one of the toughest schedules thus far in the Nation. They’ve managed to go 13-0 against teams with a combined record of 100-47 (.680) in all other games. UW owns 4 wins over the RPI top 50 and 6 wins over the RPI top 100 – the most in the nation.
VARIETY OF STYLES - By eclipsing 80 points in 5 games so far this season, UW’s silenced those critics who have accused Bo Ryan’s teams of not being able to score. Add to that a scoring average of 75.1 ppg, they’ve pumped up the offense 10.1 ppg from last season. You still want defense? The 38 points allowed at UVA were UW’s fewest given up in a road game since 1957.
KEEP ON KEEPING ON - Ryan is 16-4 all-time vs. Northwestern. The Badgers have won 5 of their last 6 trips to Evanston, owning a 6-4 record at Welsh-Ryan Arena under Ryan.