On paper this should be a win. However, the game isn't played on paper. Despite a dismal season overall for Wisconsin, they have come on a little very late in the season. This was evident as they gave Maryland a game and lost by only 6 points with some hot shooting. That being said, the Badgers have lost 12 of their last 13 games with their lone win in that stretch against Purdue in Madison. That makes Sunday's match-up a revenge game.
The Badgers are only playing for next year, while the Boilers are playing to keep their NCAA tournament hopes alive. This is another must have game to make it into the NCAA's. If it would be a loss, Purdue would need at least 2 wins in the B1G tournament, which is quite possible. It is looking like the Boilers will get a single bye in the upcoming conference tournament, but not a coveted double bye. Over the years, Purdue has practically owned the B1G tournament, with 8 or 9 tournament championships. Obviously winning another one would result in an automatic bid, but a win against Wisconsin on Sunday with at least one win in the B1G tournament should get the team into the NCAA's.
Purdue got some of their mojo back with a thrilling win in OT Thursday against a very tough and scrappy Rutgers squad. The worst of the injury problems seem to be past, although Murphy, Hamby, and Thornton do not appear to be 100%. Shooting has definitely improved after some poor shooting in that bad stretch of games.
Dominique "Ambidextrous" McBryde was in beast mode on both ends of the floor in the Rutgers game and should have another great game on Sunday. Wilson and Morrissette continue to do a good job running the offense, scoring, and for the most part playing good defense. Speaking of defense, a zone most likely would be used only sparingly against Wisconsin, as seniors Nicole Baumann and Dakota White can light it up from outside. Then again Michala Johnson is playing very well in the post, finally being healthy late in the season. The Badgers will most likely play hard just to build momentum for the conference tournament and to build a little momentum for next season. Their senior laden roster is a bit of a mystery, though, as one would think they would have won more games this season. Lack of depth and average defense are most likely part of that equation.
The offenses will most likely cancel each other out, but Purdue should have a definite edge on defense. The Boilers will need to get out on their shooters and limit open jump shots. All the while keeping Johnson from going off in the post. While these challenges will definitely be there, it is hard to pick this game as a Wisconsin win. Purdue is on a mission and playing with sky high confidence which was lacking for the long bad stretch in conference play. Also there is a lot to play for in terms of post season play. A loss here and poor showing in the conference tournament would result in an appearance in the WNIT tournament. That is not acceptable, and not the way to give the seniors, especially April Wilson, the kind of send off they deserve. Wilson learned a great deal from Moses and Houser, but has come into her own in her senior year. Her assist to turnover ratio is way ahead of her mentors and she has improved every year. Against Rutgers, Wilson was limited in scoring until late in the game, when she made a clutch trey and sunk enough free throws to seal the deal, along with a lot of hard work breaking the tough Rutgers press. She also contributed 9 assists which greatly helped the cause.
Perry and Keys had somewhat forgettable games, at least in the scoring column. Look for them to get back on track against Wisconsin. The Badgers will sink some good shots, and play average defense. Purdue better forget about Wisconsin's season and big ten records, and play our game at home. Scoring will most likely be in the middle range between a defensive battle and a scoring fest.
Prediction: Purdue 76 - Wisconsin 67.