No. 8 Wisconsin (10-2 overall, 4-1 Big Ten) will face their biggest test of the season so far Tuesday night when they face off against undefeated No. 10 Michigan (10-0 overall, 5-0 Big Ten) at the Crisler Center in Michigan.
Wisconsin comes into the matchup with some confidence after stringing together a couple wins in a row after the tough loss against Maryland — beating both No. 21 Minnesota, and inching out a double overtime win in a thriller against Indiana last week.
Michigan started the year off with a weak schedule — playing only a couple of top 75 opponents through eight games — though they are now coming off back to back wins against ranked Big Ten opponents, blowing out both No. 19 Northwestern 85-66 and No. 16 Minnesota 82-57.
The Wolverines are led by freshman center Hunter Dickinson in both scoring and rebounding, averaging 18 points and 8 rebounds on an unbelievable 73 percent shooting from the floor. Dickinson isn’t a threat from outside the arc — just 0-3 on three point attempts so far this year — but has shot 73-97 (75 percent!!!!) from inside.
“[Dickinson] doesn’t play like your average freshman,” Head Coach Greg Gard said Saturday. “He’s more physical than your average freshman, doesn’t get rattled by double teams and has great patience. It makes it hard to guard all the shooters they line up around him.”
Michigan has a host of other players shooting around 50 percent from the floor, including senior forward Isaiah Livers (51.2 percent), senior guard Mike Smith (50 percent) and sophomore guard Franz Wager (49.1 percent).
Wisconsin had some trouble guarding Indiana’s best big man, Trayce Jackson Davis, for most of the game last Thursday — allowing him 23 points on 10-16 shooting — which could spell trouble considering Michigan’s talent on the low block. But in the game against Indiana, Jackson Davis scored 22 of his 23 before Gard made the switch to his best defensive lineup (Trice, Davis, Davison, Wahl and Reuvers), and Jackson Davis was fairly ineffective after the switch.
“We had to get things under control defensively, and at that time [the lineup in the game] gave us the best chance to win,” Gard said.
While it’s likely that senior forward Micah Potter won’t stay in the doghouse again down the stretch Tuesday, Wisconsin may be forced into that ultra defensive lineup more than they would like to because of Michigan’s scoring ability in the low block.
This game is only the third away game Wisconsin has played in so far this season, splitting the last two after falling to Marquette and beating Michigan State.
“You have to bring your own energy even if it's a home game this year, so there are a lot of adjustments we’ll have to make,” Potter said Saturday. “Michigan is a great team, they haven’t lost yet so we’re looking forward to giving them that first one.”
Tip is set for 6 p.m. tonight, you can watch the game on ESPN.