MADISON, Wis. — No. 22 Wisconsin (10-3, 2-0) resumes Big Ten Conference play on Thursday against Minnesota (11-2, 1-1).
First things first, the CBS Sports Eyes on College Basketball Podcast looked back at UW’s loss to Western Kentucky (7-6) on Saturday. The Badgers fell 83-76 after the Hilltoppers shot nearly 68 percent from the field in the second half.
Traveling to a non power-six conference program for the first time since 2010-11 (UNLV), Wisconsin’s trip to Bowling Green, K.Y. was part of the football series with WKU and out of the control of head coach Greg Gard.
“If you’re Greg Gard, how you feeling about that? Your A.D. makes this deal from the football side, then you’ve gotta go play WKU,” said senior writer Matt Norlander.
“He is furious,” college basketball columnist Garry Parrish stated. “I promise you there’s a point, probably when they’re trying to find somewhere to eat in Bowling Green, K.Y., where he goes, ‘Why am I here?’
“Greg Gard got put in a spot by his athletic director that most college basketball coaches would not get put in.”
Minnesota and Wisconsin met just once last season, with the Badgers taking a 73-63 win in overtime in Madison.
The Gophers enter Thursday’s contest having won five-straight games.
“Minnesota, off the radar a bit, but they are 11-2 with a win over Nebraska,” said Parrish. “Only losses are true road losses, one at Ohio State, that ain’t bad. One at Boston College, that ain’t great, especially considering that B.C. lost to Hartford.
“If Minnesota can go win at Wisconsin, that’s a super impressive win that will move them to 12-2 and push them one step closer to possibly making the NCAA Tournament.”
Minnesota leads the all-time series 102-100. However, Wisconsin is 64-33 in games played in Madison.
“Minnesota has a good roster, talented roster. Thought this would be a top 40 team. I’m not really moving off that at all,” Norlander said. “Jordan Murphy is a walking double-double. They’ve got a really good freshman, Daniel Oturu. Love to watch Amir Coffey play.
“I won’t take them to win at Wisconsin, because Greg Gard is going to be pissed off. He’s pissed off coming off that loss at Western Kentucky. Wisconsin will have the best player on the floor in Ethan Happ.
“I will take Bucky to win. I think it’s got a fairly good chance of being a solid Big Ten game though. I think Minnesota will keep it close. I’ll take Wisconsin 69-66.”
Should UW win Thursday, it would be their ninth-straight victory in the series.
“I just think it’s going to be tough to come into the Kohl Center and beat a Wisconsin team that’s still good, even if it’s coming off a disappointing loss at Western Kentucky,” said Parrish. “Not impossible, obviously, but forced to pick a winner, I think Wisconsin gets back to its winning ways with a victory over Minnesota.”
Tip off is set for 8 p.m. and will be televised by the Big Ten Network.