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Purdue Basketball: Wisconsin Preview

Boilermakers battle Badgers in Big 10 brawl.

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Wisconsin Kayla Wolf-USA TODAY Sports

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Overall Record: 16-5

Big 10 Record: 6-2 (2nd)

KenPom Ranking: 12

Basic Information

Location: Madison, Wisconsin

Type of School: Public Land-Grant Research University

Mascot: Bucky Badger

Head Coach - Greg Gard

Seasons at Wisconsin: 9

Career Record: 180-98

Conference Championships: 2

NCAA Appearances: 5 (6-5)

Kenpom Style of Play

() = National Ranking per Kenpom

Offense

Adj. Efficiency: 120.9 (7)

Avg. Poss. Length: 19.4 (345)

Defense

Adj. Efficiency: 97.9 (32)

Avg. Poss. Length: 17

Tempo

Adj. Tempo: 65 (318)

Kenpom 4 Factors

() = National Ranking per Kenpom

Offense

Effective FG%: 53.7 (56)

Turnover %: 15.3 (63)

Off. Reb. %: 31.6 (105)

FTA/FGA: 35.8 (105)

Defense

Effective FG%: 51.7 (242)

Turnover %: 17.3 (173)

Off. Reb. %: 22.7 (5)

FTA/FGA: 30.9 (129)

Personnel

Wisconsin Starters

Position Number Player Class Height Weight Previous Team Minutes Points Rebounds Assists
Position Number Player Class Height Weight Previous Team Minutes Points Rebounds Assists
Point Guard 23 Chucky Hepbrun Jr. 6'2" 195 N/A 31.9 7.7 3 3.8
Shooting Guard 11 Max Klesmit Jr. 6'4" 200 Wofford 27.6 10 1.9 1.3
Small Forward 2 AJ Storr So. 6'7" 205 St. Johns 27.3 16.5 3.5 1
Power Forward 5 Tyler Wahl Sr. 6'9" 225 N/A 27.9 11.2 5.6 1.6
Center 22 Steven Crowl Jr. 7'0" 247 N/A 29.2 11.4 7.8 2.4

Wisconsin Bench

Position Number Player Class Height Weight Previous Team Minutes Points Rebounds Assists
Position Number Player Class Height Weight Previous Team Minutes Points Rebounds Assists
Guard/Forward 25 John Blackwell Fr. 6'4" 194 N/A 18 8.2 3.3 0.7
Forward 14 Carter Gilmore Jr. 6'7" 232 N/A 10.5 2.1 1.6 0.5
Center 31 Nolan Winter Fr. 6'11" 220 N/A 9.6 2.9 2 0.4
Note: This preview was written in fits and starts in Las Vegas over a 3 day bachelor party.

Quick and Dirty Preview

Wisconsin on Offense

Same old Badgers. Gard wants to control the game with his offense. Often times they don’t even bother to think about scoring until the shot clock breaches the 10 second mark. When they do decide to score, AJ Storr is the dude.

Storr takes 34.2% of Wisconsin’s shots. To put that into perspective, Zach takes 28% of Purdue’s shots. Storr is a tough cover for Purdue as a true wing at 6’7”. That’s the one potential hole in the roster, but the Boilermakers have dealt with similar high level wings already this year. I anticipate a heavy Ethan Morton game as long as the score stays tight, and I expect it will.

Look for Storr to try to get to his left at every opportunity. The southpaw loves to drive to his dominant hand. The good news for Purdue, is he isn’t a particularly good 3 point shooter, only knocking in 33%. The bad news is he might be the most capable mid-range scorer Purdue has faced since that one guy from Indiana whose name I refuse to type. He’s going to attack Zach’s drop coverage and try to run the game from the free throw line area. At some point, it’s going to be a make or miss scenario for Purdue, because AJ is going to get his shots and they’re going to be somewhat open. Let’s hope he misses more than he makes.

The Badgers front line is a load with two skilled bigs in Crowl and Wahl. The 7 foot Crowl is tough around the rim, making 60% of his two point attempts and also shoots 48% from 3, granted on a smallish 14-29 sample size. Expect Zach to question his shooting early and Crowl to pull the trigger.

Normally the Boilermakers could cross match TKR onto Crowl and let Zach guard the power forward, but in this case the power forward is Tyler Wahl, another skilled big. He’s a more traditional post player, but still could be an issue for Zach on defense with his wide array of moves around the hoop and his ability to draw fouls. Much like Crowl he’s efficient, hitting 57% of his 2 point attempts. Unlike Crowl, he’s not a threat to score from the outside.

Chucky Hepburn and Max Klesmit provide the guard play. Hepburn has been at Wisconsin for a minute and pulls the strings for the offense. He's steady, but rarely spectacular. Leaning more into assists than scoring. He keeps the Badgers organized, gets them into their sets, and doesn’t require many shots. Klesmit, a transfer from Wofford, is their sharp shooter on the perimeter, draining 41% of his 3 point attempts. I expect Purdue to help of Hepburn when they send the post double because if they send help from Klesmit’s man, the Badgers will make them pay.

Key Matchup

Badgers front court vs Boilermaker front court

Storr is the star for Wisconsin, and will most likely find a way to get his points. For me, this game will be won in the trenches. Unlike Northwestern, Wisconsin has skilled big men they actually rely on to do stuff other than foul. That’s not great when you play Purdue.

Check out the Wisconsin bench, they’ve got nothing past Crowl and Wahl on the interior. I expect them to double Zach and try and keep their bigs out of foul trouble, but every team attempts that and Zach still smashes them because he’s an unstoppable force of nature.

Foul trouble is death for Wisconsin, and Purdue has two foul magnets on the low blocks in Zach and TRK. If Purdue can get Crowl or Wahl off the floor for extended minutes, even more pressure will be on the shoulders of AJ Storr on offense.

At the same time, this is a front court that can stress Purdue on defense and potentially draw their own fouls. Wahl, in particular, is tough to guard without fouling in the paint. If Zach gets in foul trouble,

The way this game is officiated will play a major role in the outcome.

GULP

Prediction

KenPom

Purdue: 76

Wisconsin: 74

Confidence: 56%

Drew

Purdue: 80

Wisconsin: 76

This is a game between two teams that play, if not a similar style, at least with a similar attitude. Unlike some other games, I think the Badgers will actually try and play basketball against the Boilermakers, albeit at a snails, pace.

Zach continues to eat. Crowl, Wahl, or both battle foul trouble and Purdue gets enough shooting on the road from their 3 headed guard monster to bring home a road victory and clear path the to Big 10 Championship.