Four Ways for Maryland to (Maybe) Beat Wisconsin Tonight

Posted by Brendan Brody on February 24th, 2015

Wisconsin has won 10 games in a row and has done so by an average of 13.9 points per game. The Badgers are 25-2 on the season and, short of a completely surprising collapse down the stretch, are going to be no worse than a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Maryland has been the second-best team in the Big Ten most of the season, with a 22-5 overall record that includes a 16-1 mark at home. The Badgers as six-point favorites tonight, which may not seem like a lot, but it’s rare to have a spread so wide between two top teams in a power conference where the second-place team is at home. The long story short is that not too many people are giving the Terps much of a chance this evening, but here are some ways that Maryland can pull off the big upset.

 Melo Trimble needs to control the pace for Maryland if they want to beat Wisconsin.  (David J. Philip/AP)

Melo Trimble needs to control the pace for Maryland if they want to beat Wisconsin. (David J. Philip/AP)

  • Push the Tempo: Wisconsin has proven with its current roster that it can play at a much faster tempo than some of Bo Ryan’s past teams. They are athletic enough to handle a higher pace and do not need to stay in a low-possession game to win. But since Traveon Jackson’s injury last month against Rutgers, no Badgers’ starter is averaging less than 32.6 MPG. Admittedly, some of those high totals are because none of the five are ever really in foul trouble, but the other factor at play hers is that the Badgers don’t get much from their bench. Because Wisconsin rarely fouls, Maryland won’t feast at the free throw line as it typically does; this means getting some easy buckets in transition will help offset those missing opportunities while taking advantage of the fact that Wisconsin’s starters won’t get much rest.
  • Make Them Shoot From the Perimeter: Another dirty little secret about Wisconsin that has been masked by all the wins is that the Badgers aren’t an elite three-point shooting team this season. That’s not to say that they can’t make shots from beyond the arc, but their 35.1 percent clip from distance ranks a middling 129th in the nation. Josh Gasser (32.1 % in Big Ten games) and Sam Dekker (32.7%) are the primary culprits in their recent futility, but it’s much easier said than done to take away the Badgers’ profound ability to score in the paint. Still, the Terps would be wise to pack things in to encourage a handful more long-range attempts on this night.

  • Get Off to a Great Start: In the Gary Williams era, the old Cole Field House was a madhouse whenever there was a big ACC game in town. The Comcast Center is still one of the best home courts in the country, and the longer the Terps hang around, the louder and more insane the raucous crowd will be. Maryland is having a better-than-expected season and now gets a shot at the Wisconsin juggernaut in its own building. Any type of early momentum will go a long way toward keeping the crowd engaged and helping to swing things in their favor. An early hole, however, will give the Badgers license to limit their possessions and grind things out.
  • Big Games From Damonte Dodd and Jon Graham: Damonte Dodd simply cannot afford to get in early foul trouble tonight. He needs to solely focus on crashing the boards and influencing shots at the rim. Jon Graham too needs to come off the bench and rebound like a man possessed. Without large contributions from this duo inside, Wisconsin will carve up the Terps on the block. Dodd and Graham need to leave the scoring to the triumvirate of Melo Trimble, Dez Wells and Jake Layman, and just worry about being rugged and effective on the interior.
Brendan Brody (307 Posts)

Brendan Brody is in his fourth season covering the Big Ten for RTC. Email him at, or follow him on twitter @berndon4.

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