Sconnie Sports Talk

Wisconsin hosts Michigan in decisive last home game


The Badgers and the Wolverines face off for the first and only time in the regular season on Sunday night at 5:00 PM (Big Ten Network – Jeff Levering and Jon Crispin).

Wisconsin is currently .5 games ahead of Michigan in the Big Ten standings, so the result of this game will have an impact on the Big Ten Conference Tournament seeding.

Projected Starters

Projected Wisconsin Starters

G: Bronson Koenig (13.5 PPG, 2.3 APG)
G: Zak Showalter (7.7 PPG, 4.0 RPG)
F: Nigel Hayes (16.4 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 3.1 APG)
F: Vitto Brown (9.2 PPG, 5.2 RPG)
F: Ethan Happ (11.9 PPG, 7.9 RPG)

Projected Michigan Starters

G: Derrick Walton Jr. (12.3 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 3.9 APG)
G: Zak Irvin (11.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3.2 APG)
G: Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (7.7 PPG, 2.4 RPG)
G: Duncan Robinson (11.2 PPG, 3.3 RPG)
F: Mark Donnal (8.1 PPG, 3.8 RPG)


The Wolverines have been playing without leading scorer Caris LeVert (16.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 4.9 APG) for almost all of Big Ten play, and he is doubtful for Sunday’s game. A senior captain for the Wolverines, Michigan is a different team without LeVert in terms of production and leadership.

Without LeVert, juniors Derrick Walton Jr., Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Zak Irvin have had to pick up the slack. Walton Jr. and Irvin are averaging 12.3 and 11.3 points per game, respectively, while Abdur-Rahkman has scored 16 and 19 points in his last two contests. Walton Jr. is shooting 41.3% from deep on the season, so the Badgers will be looking to run him off the three-point line. Wisconsin’s guards will have to keep their counterparts in check, as Michigan loves shooting three-pointers.

With Michigan’s smaller lineup, you have to give the advantage inside to Wisconsin, and in particular to Ethan Happ. Happ is an undersized five for Wisconsin, and you could see how undersized he was going against 7’1″ Adam Woodbury from Iowa. However, he did a great job of not forcing the issue, and allowing Khalil Iverson to work the baseline while Happ played closer to the free throw line. Mark Donnal is just 6’9″, so expect Happ to be more of a factor.

Koenig had one of his better efforts of the year against Iowa, scoring 15 points on 4-6 shooting and tallying 4 assists. Badger fans hope that’s a trend he can continue against Michigan, as Koenig has arguably been Wisconsin’s most consistent player in February.

Nigel Hayes will look to bounce back, as he has struggled mightily in his last two games, especially in terms of field goal percentage. Hayes will go to the rim more against the Wolverines, and he should put together a solid bounce-back performance.

Look for Vitto Brown to have a big game, as he matches up well on offense with Michigan’s smaller lineup. Brown may play less minutes due to defensive matchups, but expect him to make the most of it on offense.

Bottom Line

With the game being in the Kohl Center and Caris LeVert not playing, the Badger fans are expecting a win. If they can continue to share the ball and play outstanding defense, the Badgers should put themselves in a great position to grab another important dub.