The Badgers have had one of the nation’s toughest schedules, and on Tuesday night, that does not change when they face their fifth-ranked opponent of the year in #3 Purdue.
Wisconsin hasn’t fared well against ranked opponents this season, going 0-4 in such matchups. But, other than a stinker against Virginia where the Badgers only scored 37 points, these games were some of their best performances of the season, until the final moments of course, when the Badgers weren’t able to secure wins against teams like Baylor, UCLA, and Xavier.
Tuesday night they will be playing a familiar foe, a team that they have beaten seven times out of their last 14 matchups, although the Boilermakers have won the last three outings.
Purdue, if anybody, has the blueprint to slow down Ethan Happ. Happ averages 11 points and 4.7 rebounds against the Boilermakers, numbers well below his regular averages. Last year, Purdue had star big-man Caleb Swanigan to battle Happ down low. Now, Purdue has two monsters to throw at Happ for 40 minutes. 7’2″ Isaac Haas is averaging career-high numbers across the board, including 1.3 blocks. When Haas subs out, Purdue has an even bigger freshman, Matt Haarms, who is 7’3″ and averages nearly three blocks per game.
Happ is much shorter at only 6’9″, but has the footwork to beat anyone in college basketball. It will be physical down low on Tuesday night between those three, and the Badgers will likely need Happ to shoot better from the free throw line (41% in last nine games) to have a chance to pull off the upset.
Matt Painter’s squad is one of the most balanced teams in the country. The second highest scoring team in the Big Ten at 85 points per game has four players averaging double-digit scoring numbers in Carsen Edwards, Vincent Edwards, Isaac Haas, and Dakota Mathias. Wisconsin does not nearly have the consistency or explosiveness that Purdue bolsters, meaning the Badgers will need an old-school performance to pull this one out with defense and a slow pace.