This week’s college basketball slate featured many interesting, high-profile games. Several teams in the top 10 lost, with some losing their first games of the season, including #2 Michigan. On Saturday, January 19, the Wisconsin Badgers defeated the Michigan Wolverines 64-54.
Despite the fact that Michigan was ranked second in the country and Wisconsin was unranked, this was a closer game on paper than one might have thought. Wisconsin ranks as KenPom’s 16th best team, ranking at 32nd in adjusted offensive efficiency and 10th in defensive efficiency. Michigan, on the other hand, stands as KenPom’s 6th best team, ranking at 25th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 3rd in adjusted defensive efficiency. With home court advantage in Wisconsin’s favor, KenPom gave Michigan just a slight pregame edge (52.6% chance to win).
In terms of the game itself, it was no surprise that there would be some offensive struggles given the teams’ strong defenses. The Wolverines were held to 40.7% from the field and 27.8% (5-18) from three. The Badgers faired a little better, as they shot 44.8% from the field, including 38.5% (5-13) from beyond the arc. Wisconsin has been a great three-point shooting team this season, coming in at 18th in the nation at 39.1%. Some good passing and solid three-point shooting helped Wisconsin take down the #2 team in the country.
Senior center Ethan Happ was the star of the game, contributing with 26 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists. Happ dished out two assists each to sophomore guard Brad Davison, sophomore forward Nate Reuvers, and freshman wing Kobe King. His final assist went to sophomore forward Aleem Ford. Davison distributed three assists—two to Happ and one to Reuvers. Finally, sophomore point guard D’Mitrik Trice contributed with three assists as well, two to Happ and one to Davison.
Even after the big win, Wisconsin still has a lot of ground to catch up in the Big Ten race. The Wolverines are currently tied for 6th place with a 4-3 conference record. Meanwhile, Michigan stands in 3rd place with a 6-1 record, placing behind Michigan State and Maryland. Since it is still early, both teams have time to catch up and improve their standings in the NCAA tournament.