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Preview: Minnesota at Wisconsin

No. 14 Wisconsin (21-8, 10-6) hosts Minnesota (17-12, 5-11) as the Badgers look to secure the four-seed in the Big Ten Tournament with a win tonight.

Austin Hollins

Tale of the Tape

The Gophers are on a massive slide at this point in the season as Minnesota has lost five-straight games, although four of which have come against ranked opponents. The Badgers are coming off a tremendous road win at Ohio State, defeating the Buckeyes 63-60.

Starting Lineup

G Julian Welch 6-3 Jr. (10.2 ppg)
G Joe Coleman 6-4 Fr. (5.5 ppg)
G Austin Hollins 6-4 So. (8.4 ppg)
F Rodney Williams 6-7 Jr. (10.7 ppg)
F Ralph Sampson III 6-11 Sr. (7.7 ppg)

Strengths

Protecting the Paint: Minnesota has led the Big Ten Conference in blocked shots the last three seasons. The Gophers have blocked 145 shots this season (5.0 per game), which leads the conference.

Bench Play: The Gophers' bench has outscored their opponent’s bench
179-80 in the last eight outings. Minnesota is 14-6 this season when their bench outscore their opponents' bench.

Second Half: Minnesota has outscored their opponents by 98 points (3.4 per game) in the second half this season. The Gophers are 13-2 this season when they have a lead with under 5:00 to go in the game.

Sampson III needs four points to eclipse 1,000 for his career.

Weaknesses

Turnovers: The Gophers average 14.3 turnovers per game, which ranks last in the Big Ten. Minnesota has a turnover margin of -1.10.

Defensive Rebounding: Minnesota ranks No. 11 in the Big Ten in defensive rebounding percentage. The Gophers grab the defensive rebound 67.1 percent of the time.

Three-point Shooting: The Gophers have made just 152 three-point field goals on the season which ranks them No. 11 in the conference.

Player to Watch

Gopher senior Ralph Sampson III comes into tonight's game four points short of 1,000 career points. With 1,000 points, Sampson III will become just the fifth Gopher player with 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 150 blocks.

Sampson has shown the ability to give Wisconsin problems in the past with his post play and solid footwork down low. When Sampson plays well, it forces other teams to double team, leaving more offensive rebound opportunities for explosive athlete Rodney Williams.

Prediction

Wisconsin is coming off a huge win at Ohio State and although the Badgers could still be riding high after the victory that occurred just two days ago, Minnesota is in a miserable slump.

The Gophers have faced four ranked teams in their last five games and appear to be wounded at this point in the season.

Wisconsin shows no mercy as the Badgers win 65-57.

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