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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Thursday, September 28, 2023
Nigel Hayes

Nigel Hayes led the Badgers in their last go-around with Penn State, scoring 21 points on an efficient 7-of-9 shooting.

Multiple streaks on the line against Penn State

When No. 5 Wisconsin and Penn State square off Wednesday night at 6 p.m. in University Park, Pennsylvania, it will be a matchup of two teams that are on opposite sides of the Big Ten spectrum.

The Badgers (23-2 overall, 11-1 Big Ten) head to the Bryce Jordan Center having won their last eight games and 16 of their last 17. UW sits comfortably atop the conference standings with the next two closest teams, Maryland and Purdue, 2.5 games behind.

The Nittany Lions (15-11, 3-10), on the other hand, have lost four of their last five contests and sit in 12th place in the Big Ten standings.

Penn State is coming off a 76-73 loss to No. 19 Maryland, a game that featured a controversial offensive foul call on the Nittany Lions with 1:50 left and the Terrapins leading 70-68.

Penn State head coach Pat Chambers blasted the officials after the game and was subsequently fined $10,000 by the Big Ten.

Now, the Nittany Lions turn their attention to the Badgers, who will be their third consecutive ranked opponent. They haven’t fared well against highly ranked foes, going just 1-15 against Top 5 opponents since the start of the 2001-’02 season.

Penn State has also dropped its last six contests against the Badgers, last defeating UW in an ugly 36-33 affair during the 2011 Big Ten Tournament. However, the Nittany Lions have typically been able to keep it close against Wisconsin, as seven of the last 11 meetings between these two teams have been decided by single digits.

If Penn State is going to have any chance of pulling off the upset, it will need a monster performance from senior guard D.J. Newbill, the Big Ten’s leading scorer with an average of 20.8 points per game.

Newbill has fared well against Wisconsin, averaging 21.5 points in his four games against the Badgers. He shredded the UW defense earlier this season, putting up 29 points on 11-of-18 shooting in the teams’ Dec. 31 meeting at the Kohl Center. But despite this strong effort from Newbill, the Badgers still cruised to a 17-point victory.

Wisconsin was able to overcome Newbill’s stellar performance thanks to an even more productive showing by its starting frontcourt of Frank Kaminsky, Nigel Hayes and Sam Dekker.

In that game, Hayes led all UW scorers with 21 points, Kaminsky added 18 and Dekker chipped in 17. The trio combined to shoot a blistering 21-of-32 from the floor.

The key for Penn State to try and keep pace with the Badger offense will likely be how much production it can get from its bench. The Nittany Lions are getting over 20 points per game from their reserves this season and outscored the Wisconsin bench 24-9 in their first meeting.

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If Penn State isn’t able to get a strong showing from someone outside of Newbill, the Badgers shouldn’t have much trouble steamrolling them on their way to a ninth straight win.

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