Michigan Basketball: Keys to Victory for Wolverines Against Wisconsin Badgers
The Michigan Wolverines have some unfinished business with the Wisconsin Badgers after losing in a previous matchup back in February, and they have a chance to avenge that loss in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament on Friday.
Wisconsin scored an improbable upset victory over Michigan when guard Ben Brust nailed an incredible half-court buzzer beater to send the game into overtime after Michigan took a three-point lead with just seconds left in regulation.
The Badgers would go on to hold the Wolverines to just two points in the extra frame to claim victory.
That result is one that Michigan has not and will not forget until they can finally beat Wisconsin, who has won an astounding 11 of the last 12 meetings between the two.
Let's take a look at what the Wolverines need to do in order to exorcise their demons against the Badgers.
Trey Burke's Scoring and Passing
If the Wolverines are to win any game the rest of the way this year, Burke's offensive prowess must be on full display throughout. Burke dropped 21 points on Penn State in Michigan's opening game win of the Big Ten tourney.
There's no question Burke must put up his normal point output against Wisconsin, but it's just as important that he set up his teammates in the process. Burke will draw a ton of attention from the Badgers' defense, so he must take advantage of this and find his open teammates for easy buckets.
Wisconsin plays great defense and Michigan knows that from experience. In the pair's last meeting, the Badgers held the Wolverines to just 62 points and that was with an extra frame played. On the season, Michigan averaged 75 points per game.
Burke can't do this all on his own and he'll need help from the guys around him not named Tim Hardaway Jr. The best way to get that help is to be a major distributor and rack up some assists, which is something he didn't do the last time around against Wisconsin.
Don't Get Blown Out on the Boards
The Badgers have some good rebounders on their roster and the Wolverines must be careful not to allow them to dominate the boards. Wisconsin (37 per game) was ranked No. 70 in the country in rebounds per game, while Michigan (35 per game) was ranked No. 157.
Ryan Evans (7.5) and Jared Berggren (7.1) are the team's leading rebounders; in total, Wisconsin has four players averaging five rebounds or more per game.
On the flip side, the Wolverines only have two players averaging five boards or more, so it will be important for Glenn Robinson III (5.5) and Mitch McGary (5.3) to do some extra work in the paint as the team's best rebounders.
The last thing Michigan can afford to do is give Wisconsin second chances to score the ball. While the Wolverines may not ou-trebound the Badgers, they must at least make it a close deficit to stand a better chance of winning.
When the Wolverines are at their best, they are playing in transition and running opposing defenses off the floor. It's the perfect recipe for success as Michigan sports a fast and athletic lineup.
Wisconsin is the exact opposite. The Badgers are a team that likes to slow it down and play in the half court on both sides of the ball. Doing so against Michigan will play right into their strength, which is defense.
Michigan must make it difficult for Wisconsin's defense to get set and that will makes points far easier to come by. In turn, the Wolverines can tire out the Badgers while running up and down the floor so that the Badgers have a tough time stopping them even in a half-court set.
The Wolverines are no doubt more athletic than their counterparts in this contest and that's an advantage they must use. If not, Wisconsin will be able to lock down Michigan much like they did back in February, and we know how that turned out.
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