Men’s basketball need to know: No. 5 Wisconsin at Maryland

first_imgWith every win — or double-digit win for that matter — in the Big Ten for the No. 5 Wisconsin men’s basketball team, the goal of winning a conference regular season title gets that much closer.The Badgers (25-2, 13-1 Big Ten) can partially achieve that goal Tuesday night in College Park, Maryland, when they travel to take on No. 14 Maryland.With a win Tuesday over the Terrapins, the conference newcomer (22-5, 10-4 Big Ten), the Badgers will clinch at least a share of the Big Ten regular season championship, which would be the first since 2008. It would be Wisconsin’s 18th regular season conference championship and fourth under head coach Bo Ryan.But a win won’t come easy against the second-best team in the Big Ten. Only twice this season has Wisconsin encountered a ranked Big Ten team — against No. 25 Iowa Jan. 20 and against No. 25 Indiana Feb. 3 — and won those two games only by a combined margin of 46 points. However, Maryland is Wisconsin’s highest ranked opponent since it squared off against No. 4 Duke Dec. 3. Maryland is also the highest ranked opponent in the Big Ten behind the Badgers.After being picked to finish eighth in the Big Ten preseason poll, Maryland started the season 14-1 and ascended as high as No. 11 in the AP rankings. Now, the Terrapins have begun to solidify themselves as the top team in the Big Ten behind Wisconsin and sit in a tie for second place with Michigan State and Purdue. Maryland has won its last three Big Ten games.Perhaps the largest reason for Maryland’s surprising success this season is due to the emergence of freshman Melo Trimble. The 6-foot-3 guard is averaging 16.1 points per game along with 3.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists per contest. Senior Dez Wells is second on the Terrapins in scoring, averaging 14.6 points per game, with 4.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists. Junior forward Jake Layman is averaging a team-high 6.6 rebounds per game, chipping in 13.6 points per game for Maryland as well.Meanwhile, Wisconsin is rolling through the Big Ten with 10 consecutive wins with eight of those wins coming by 10 or more points. The Badgers defeated Minnesota Saturday 63-53 behind 21 points from senior forward Frank Kaminsky and a career-high 17 from sophomore guard Bronson Koenig.After his career-high 17 points Saturday, Koenig is now averaging 12.6 points per game in his 10 starts this season. His 3.6 assist-to-turnover ratio is third-best in the nation. Junior forward Sam Dekker had a career-high last week as well when he dropped in 22 points against Penn State last Wednesday. Dekker is now averaging 14 points and 5.9 rebounds in Big Ten play while shooting 52 percent.No. 5 Wisconsin (25-2, 13-1 Big Ten)Big Ten: 13-1, 1st place by three games over Maryland, Michigan State and PurdueLast Game: Defeated Minnesota at home, 63-53Probable Starters: G – Bronson Koenig (6-4, 7.7 ppg), G – Josh Gasser (6-4, 7.1 ppg), F – Sam Dekker (6-9, 13.1 ppg), F – Nigel Hayes (6-8, 12.1 ppg), F – Frank Kaminsky (7-0, 17.7 ppg)Key Reserves: G – Zak Showalter, F – Duje Dukan, F – Vitto BrownMaryland (22-5, 10-4 Big Ten)Big Ten: 10-4, tied for 2nd place with Michigan State and Purdue, three games behind WisconsinLast Game: Defeated Nebraska at home, 69-65Probable Starters: G – Melo Trimble (6-3, 16.1 pgg), G – Richaud Pack (6-4, 6.6 ppg), G/F – Dez Wells (6-5, 14.6 ppg), F – Damonte Dodd (6-11, 3.9 ppg), F – Jake Layman (6-9, 13.6 ppg)Key Reserves: F – Evan Smotrycz, G – Jared NickensGame VitalsWho – No. 5 Wisconsin at MarylandWhen – Tuesday, Feb. 24, 6 p.m.Where – Xfinity Center (17,950); College Park, MarylandTV – ESPN (Mike Tirico, Jay Bilas, Quint Kessenich)last_img

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