The Badgers are coming off their big upset win against Michigan State and face off against Penn State at 7 P.M. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network. Penn State is also coming off a big win after defeating Northwestern 71-62 on Saturday.
Projected Wisconsin Starters
G: Bronson Koenig (14.3 PPG, 2.5 APG)
G: Zak Showalter (8.1 PPG, 4.0 RPG)
F: Nigel Hayes (16.3 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 3.6 APG)
F: Vitto Brown (8.5 PPG, 5.6 RPG)
F: Ethan Happ (11.6 PPG, 8.1 RPG)
Projected Penn State Starters
G: Shep Garner (14.3 PPG, 2.8 APG)
F: Brandon Taylor (16.4 PPG, 6.1 RPG)
F: Payton Banks (10.8 PPG, 5.0 RPG)
F: Julian Moore (4.5 PPG, 3.6 APG)
C: Jordan Dickerson (3.1 PPG, 3.5 RPG)
The Badgers are coming off their big win against MSU, where they finally got the production they needed from Bronson Koenig, and then some. Koenig scored a career high 27 points, and also got some help from his side kick Nigel Hayes who poured in another 25. This was the first game all season in which the leaders for the Badgers clicked at the same time, showing the potential for this team.
Against the Nittany Lions, Wisconsin will be looking for more of the same from these two. In order to make the tournament, Koenig and Hayes will have to string multiple good games together. The Badgers will virtually have to win out to make the tournament, and that won’t happen unless those two are firing on all cylinders.
Junior guard Zak Showalter has missed practice this week and has been in a walking boot due to an ankle injury. He told reporters on Monday that he will play against Penn State. If he cannot go, expect freshman Khalil Iverson to get his first career start.
Penn State is led by senior Brandon Taylor, who averages 16.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, leading the team in both categories. Taylor is a scorer who can beat you inside, and he’s not afraid to take three-pointers. Look for Hayes to matchup with the senior forward.
Point guard Shep Garner is the other main contributor, averaging 14.3 points per game and shooting 37% from deep. Garner, who’s shooting only 38% from the field overall, is from Chester, PA, Bo Ryan’s hometown.
The Nittany Lions have suffered from inconsistent inside play all year from the likes of Julian Moore and Jordan Dickerson, although the 7’1″ Dickerson averages almost 2 blocks per game and his impact on defense is always felt. Penn State is well-coached by Pat Chambers and his staff, and they know that the Badgers will look to draw fouls and go to the hoop like they did against Michigan State.
Josh Reaves, a freshman starter for the Nittany Lions, is believed to be out for several games with an injury and won’t play against the Badgers.
If the stars play like they should for the Badgers, they will blow by Penn State. However, Badger fans have learned not to expect consistency from this team after the 10-9 start.
Photo: Sports Illustrated