The Badgers wrapped up the non-conference portion of their schedule with a dominant win over FAMU the night before Christmas Eve. The Badgers strut into Big Ten season with high hopes and a solid 11-2 record. The Badgers’ only losses came from current top-10 teams in the form of North Carolina and Creighton. They’ll look to translate the early success into success in the Big Ten schedule, and that starts with Tuesday night’s matchup with the 11-2 Rutgers. The game is at 6 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN2. The Badgers and the Scarlet Nights played once last year (as opposed to twice this year), with the Badgers winning the game by 22 points.
G: Bronson Koenig (14.6 PPG, 2.1 APG)
G: Zak Showalter (7.4 PPG, 2.2 APG)
F: Nigel Hayes (13.5 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 3.4 APG)
F: Vitto Brown (8.0 PPG, 3.8 RPG)
C: Ethan Happ (12.9 PPG, 9.5 RPG)
G: Corey Sanders (10.7 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 3.8 APG)
G: Nigel Johnson (12.7 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3.1 APG)
F: Eugene Omoruyi (2.2 PPG, 2.5 RPG)
F: Deshawn Freeman (12.2 PPG, 9.5 RPG)
C: C.J. Gettys (8.6 PPG, 4.8 RPG)
Rutgers has enjoyed early season success with their record posted at 11-2, the same as the Badgers. However, Wisconsin is by far the toughest team Rutgers has had to match up against.
Rutgers lost to Seton Hall in its most recent game. The Scarlet Nights took a double-digit lead into halftime and ended up losing by double digits. Seven different players have started for Rutgers, including freshman Eugene Omoruyi notching his first collegiate start in the matchup against Seton Hall. Steve Pikiell could easily change to a different starting lineup against Wisconsin.
The Scarlet Nights are led by a dynamic guard tandem in Corey Sanders and Nigel Johnson. Sanders is averaging double figures in scoring while leading the team in assists. In addition to scoring and passing, he rebounds the ball at a tremendous rate for 6’2″ point guard, averaging 3.5 RPG. Sanders was 1/8 in last year’s matchup against the Badgers and will look to bounce back from that performance in the 2016-17 campaign. Johnson leads the team in scoring, and, just like Sanders, also rebounds at a tremendous rate for a 6’1″ guard. Both Johnson and Sanders don’t shoot from particularly well from the three-point line so the Badgers will have to play solid man-to-man defense to stay in front and play solid gap defense when the tandem gets by defenders.
Forward Deshawn Freeman is Rutgers’ hound on the boards, averaging over nine per game. Freeman has had nine games in double figures rebounding, including a current streak of four straight. Sixth-man Mike Williams averages 11.4 PPG on nearly 37% shooting from the three-point line. When he checks in, the Badgers will immediately have to pay considerable attention to him on the perimeter.
Center C.J. Gettys is a seven footer and allows the Badgers to prep for Isaac Haas, Purdue’s 7’0″ center, who the Badgers play on January 8th.