Wisconsin is hoping recent history against Michigan State is on its side when the eighth-ranked Badgers host the No. 14 Spartans on Friday night in Madison, Wis.
Wisconsin has won the last two matchups with Michigan State, including a 64-63 victory in the last meeting at home at the Kohl Center.Before that, however, the Spartans had won eight straight against the Badgers.
Wisconsin (15-2, 6-1 Big Ten) extended its winning streak to seven with an 82-76 victory at Northwestern on Tuesday to move into a first-place tie with Illinois in the conference.
The Spartans (14-3, 5-1) were upset at home by Northwestern 64-62 in their last outing on Saturday, snapping a nine-game winning streak.
Sophomore guard Johnny Davis, who had 27 points in the win over Northwestern, leads the Badgers in scoring (22.1 points per game) and rebounding (7.5).
"Obviously, he's a talented player," Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said of Davis. "I thought he could have gotten to the free-throw line more. Teams are playing him very physically. That's something I'll continue to watch and monitor and talk to people about. But he's a special talent and he's got good teammates around him who find him and put him in good position."
Fifth-year senior guard Brad Davison averages 15.1 points per game and had made a team-high 41 3-pointers. Forward Tyler Wahl averages 11 points and 5.7 rebounds and has scored in double figures six of the last seven games.
Point guard Chucky Hepburn, the first true freshman to start for the Badgers since eventual NBA standout Devin Harris in 2001, has been solid defensively and has just 21 turnovers while averaging 30 minutes per game.
Wisconsin has made more free throws (258) than its opponents have attempted (249), but was just 2 for 8 in the final minute against Northwestern.
The Badgers, long known for their grinding style, are averaging 72.6 points per game, the highest mark in Gard's seven seasons. Wisconsin is No. 1 in fewest turnovers with 8.2 per game,
The Spartans feature a balanced attack. Gabe Brown averages 14.2 points, freshman guard Max Christie 10.4, and Malik Hall and Marcus Bingham Jr. each at 9.7.
Bingham, a 7-foot senior center, averages a team-best 7.1 rebounds and has 45 blocks. He presents a challenge for Wisconsin's 7-foot tandem of Steven Crowl and Chris Vogt, who have been prone to foul trouble.
Michigan State allows just 65.6 points per game and opponents are shooting just 39 percent, including 29 percent from beyond the arc. The Spartans have a 7.4 rebounding margin over opponents, but are averaging 14.5 turnovers per contest.
The Spartan turned the ball over 17 times against Northwestern and shot just 37 percent (10-for-27) in the second half. In their previous game, they edged Minnesota 71-69 on a last-second basket by Joey Hauser.
"You know, we've got a good team, we got good guys, but I think they're reading their press clippings, and thinking they're better than they are, that they're going to reinvent the way to win," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "My staff and I did not do a very good job of making sure that that didn't happen."
--Field Level Media