Heading into last Sunday, Wisconsin basketball was ranked in the top 10, held a tight grip on first place in the Big Ten standings and was mainly in search for quality wins to please the NCAA Tournament committee in search of a high seed.
How things have turned since then.
Coming off back-to-back losses to Northwestern and Michigan, the Badgers now find themselves ranked No. 11 and holding a 10-3 conference record. They entered the weekend in three-way tie for first in the Big Ten with with Purdue and Maryland. But with the Boilermakers beating Michigan State on Sunday, the loser of the matchup between the Badgers and Terrapins, two teams which paced the Big Ten for most of conference play, will be on the outside looking in.
The No. 23 Terrapins (22-4, 10-3 Big Ten) have bounced back since a two-game skid of their own earlier this month, coming off wins against Northwestern and Ohio State. A win would position them well two weeks before the Big Ten Tournament — in a tie with Purdue (the Boilermakers hold the tiebreaker), but with a much weaker schedule to finish the regular season.
As for the Badgers (21-5, 10-3), a victory would give them arguably their best win of the season and keep them in step with Purdue for first place. A loss would all but eliminate them from the top seed in the Big Ten Tournament, as they would be behind two teams that hold tiebreakers over them. That’s probably not a huge loss in the long run, but it’s certainly disappointing for a team that held a two-game lead a week ago.
Maryland basketball vs. Wisconsin game time, details
Date: Sunday, Feb. 19
Time: Noon CT/1 p.m. ET
Location: Kohl Center, Madison, Wis.
The line: Wisconsin is a 7-point favorite.
What TV channel broadcasts Maryland basketball vs. Wisconsin?
The game will be broadcast on CBS.
How can I watch Maryland basketball vs. Wisconsin online?
CBS will live-stream the game at CBSSports.com, as well as on the CBS Sports app.
How can I listen to Maryland basketball vs. Wisconsin on the radio?
The Wisconsin call for the game will be on the Badger Sports Network. A list of affiliates can be found here and the game can be heard online here. Maryland affiliates are listed here and the Terps’ call will be streamed here.
Wisconsin’s keys to the game
Bronson come back, you can blame it all on knee (no apologies)
It’s safe to say the Badgers are beginning to miss a fully operational Bronson Koenig. The senior guard missed the Badgers’ loss to Michigan on Thursday with a leg injury, just the second missed game of the senior’s career and his first since November of his freshman year. However, leg woes had been affecting his play for far longer, as he had been averaging 8.8 points a game and shooting 25.5 percent in his last five games prior to Thursday.
Worsening the situation was true freshman D’Mitrik Trice not making a strong case he could provide a quality replacement for Koenig, scoring 9 points on an awful 2-of-15 shooting performance in his first start Thursday. Koenig practiced on Saturday, but remains day-to-day. Whether or not he comes back at full strength is a key question for Sunday — and beyond.
Bronson Koenig practice today, but it was a light practice for UW. Only drills and shooting. No possesions
— Ben Pickman (@benpickman) February 18, 2017
Ethan Happ looked like he had figured out how to deal with a double team in the first half of Thursday’s game, scoring 18 points on 8-of-9 shooting along with 4 assists. Then, he all but disappeared in the second half, registering 4 points and 5 fouls. Happ is one of the Big Ten’s best, but if Koenig remains out and Nigel Hayes remains silent (the senior scored just 6 points against Michigan), his offensive vulnerabilities are amplified and present difficult obstacles for a Wisconsin attack that has struggled in recent weeks. The Badgers are going to need someone else to step up or Happ to have the game of his life.
Rebounding through rebounding
It looks like Wisconsin’s biggest advantage against Maryland will be on the glass, where the Badgers have stronger numbers on both sides of the floor. Per KenPom.com, Wisconsin ranks in the top 25 of the nation in both offensive and defensive rebounding rates, while Maryland sits at 116th on offense and 261st on defense. Much of Wisconsin’s success has come through having more scoring chances than its opponents, so regaining that advantage could be key in getting back to that.