Michigan has slightly fallen under the radar after starting the season in the top 10 of the national polls, even though they’ve jumped out to a 4-0 start in conference play without All-America candidate Mitch McGary. This unblemished record will be challenged mightily when the Wolverines travel to Wisconsin on Saturday afternoon (5:00 CST, ESPN). Big Ten microsite columnists Brendan Brody and Alex Moscoso answered some questions in advance of this key contest that will help determine who will ultimately win the league.
Both teams are in the top seven nationally in both offensive efficiency and in turnover percentage, yet they both play at a relatively slow tempo. Who wins the battle of these potent offenses on Saturday?
AM: Wisconsin is coming off of an inexplicable loss to Indiana on Tuesday night. The Hoosiers shocked the college basketball world by upsetting the Badgers and exposing a weakness in their 25th-ranked defense by driving effectively to the rim. About 60 percent of Indiana’s shots were at the cup, where the Badgers are allowing opponents to shoot 52 percent. Michigan, however, is much more of a jump-shooting team as only 24 percent of their shots are under the rim. Wisconsin’s defense thrives at making their opponents take bad looks when they are shooting jumpers (less than 35 percent). For this reason, I’m betting the Badgers stifle Michigan’s offense on Saturday while their own offense takes care of business.
BB: Every team in the B1G other than Wisconsin and Michigan have seen their offensive efficiency numbers plummet once they’ve started playing conference games. This won’t be a shootout in the traditional sense because neither team plays fast, but they’ve both demonstrated that they can put points on the board. Indiana could have won by more than it did had they (mainly Yogi Ferrell) made more than 4-of-14 of their shots from behind the three-point line. If Wisconsin allows Michigan the same opportunities from outside the arc, they have much better shooters than the Hoosiers and will make the Badgers pay.