#5 Purdue (23-5, Big 10 12-5) vs. Wisconsin (16-12, Big 10 8-10)
March 2, 2023, 9:00 p.m. EST
Kohl Center, Madison, Wisconsin
Wisconsin Starting Lineup
|C||22||Steven Crowl||Jr||7'0"||245||Eagan, MN|
|PF||5||Tyler Wahl||Sr||6'9"||225||Lakeville, MN|
|SF||3||Connor Essegian||Fr||6'4"||185||Fort Wayne, IN|
|SG||11||Max Klesmit||Jr||6'3"||200||Neenah, WI||Wafford|
|PG||23||Chucky Hepburn||So||6'2"||205||Omaha, NE|
|PF||14||Carter Gilmore||Jr||6'7"||225||Hartland, WI|
|SF||2||Jordan Davis||Jr||6'4"||200||La Crosse, WI|
|PG||4||Kamari McGee||So||6'0"||180||Racine, WI||Green Bay|
Wisconsin On Offense
Wisconsin’s offensive stats are less than ideal if you’re a Badgers fan. Their effective field goal percentage is 48.8, 262nd in men’s college hoops. They are a decent three point shooting team, ranked 102nd, hitting 35.5% of shots from deep. From two point land, however, the badgers only knock down 45.8% of their shots. That’s 332nd in the nation.
I know we’re spoiled with a guy as swift and as giant as Zach Edey is, but how is a team with a seven-footer that bad at closing the deal from close range, especially given that their contested mid-range jumper game is also lacking? The Badgers rely too heavily on open shots, and with the Boilermakers’ typically tight, clean defense and ability to close out shots, the home team is going to need an uncharacteristically great shooting night to outlast their guests.
The Badgers are also the worst free throw shooting team in the Big 10 and one of the worst nationally (328th), hitting only 66.2% of their attempts from the stripe. Hypothetically, it would be easier for them to pump that number up at home, given that their free throw percentage drops by almost 4% in road conference games.
Even then, Purdue’s probably not going to send Wisconsin to the stripe as often as they would some of the more aggressive offenses in the conference, so the Badgers need to make it count when they’re sent to line to keep this one close late. In the scenario of Purdue down two or three possessions in the final 90 seconds, dare I say...advantage Boilermakers? If Purdue fouls Wisconsin into the bonus or double bonus, Matt Painter can and will call to manipulate the clock expecting a few free throws to be missed.
Where the discussion of pace comes into play: Wisconsin does not turn the ball over. The team’s turnover percentage of 13.4 is fourth in the country and Purdue continues to fall in the rankings of turnover creation (a 333rd ranked 15.4). This gives Wisconsin the ability to dictate tempo and make this one of those games where Purdue has fewer than 50 shot attempts by the final buzzer. That’s what really worries me in Purdue’s final road game of the regular season.
Wisconsin on Defense
Outside of not allowing many offensive rebounds (which will likely not be much of a factor as they haven’t faced a player of Zach Edey’s size this season), the Badgers are average to slightly above average in most defensive categories.
They allow a 129th ranked effective field goal percentage of 49.6, including allowing a two point field goal percentage of 50.3 (185th) and 32.3 (80th) from three. Their defensive turnover percentage is 18.4, which puts them at 168th in the country.
For a team with a true seven-footer, Wisconsin’s shot blocking is miserable. The Badgers’ collective block percentage is a lowly 4.2, ranked 360th nationally. Purdue already doesn’t have many shots blocked, so that has the potential to be a total non-factor in this game.
But let’s get back to the permission (or lack thereof) of offensive rebounds. If the Boilermakers are taking shots from deep with everybody spaced out around the three point line with just Edey and one defender near the rim, even if the shot rims out, Edey is going to clean it up and get the ball in the basket four times out of five. It’s something I wish Purdue would do more of, but it’s also hard to avoid double teams with Edey. With Wisconsin’s Steven Crowl making a double team less of a necessity of the Badgers, if the Boilers can draw defenders outside, I like Edey in a rebound and put-back shot scenario.
One thing in their film that needs attention: the Badgers operate a little slowly reacting to high screens, something the Boilermakers do a lot of on offense. That, combined with occasionally looking muddled in the guarding of a driving guard, might put a guy like Braden Smith or Fletcher Loyer in prime position for some much needed non-Edey points down low.
X-Factor - Tempo
We don’t need another game during which the Boilermakers attempt under 50 shots. Most of Purdue’s losses have come in that fashion, with one of them featuring only 45 shots. I would like to see more urgency taking the ball up the court and taking quick shots around the perimeter when it’s just Zach Edey and Steven Crowl down low. Get a few quick points here and there and you can afford to play a slower, more calculated offensive set piece with your typical high level of ball movement to find a shot just like it was drawn up in practice.
Purdue - 65
Wisconsin - 61
Purdue - 71
Wisconsin - 66
Wisconsin’s going to do anything they can to run this game at a pace that takes it down to the final few minutes. Most of their losses are close and they’ve already played six games that went to overtime. Ultimately, I see this as a scenario of outlasting for Purdue. If and when this game stays under three possessions in the last three minutes of the game, ask yourself which team draws a lot of fouls and hits their free throws and which team does neither.