Big Ten Matchup

Wisconsin is coming off a thrilling win over one of the nation's top programs over the last several years. On Wednesday, the Badgers will try to build on that victory as they meet a typically strong program that has fallen on hard times.

After rejoining the Top 25 following a four-week absence, the 25th-ranked Badgers open Big Ten play against a Michigan squad that is off to its worst start in more than 25 years.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Wisconsin -8 point spread favorites (View College Basketball odds) for today’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 77% of bets for this game have been placed on Wisconsin -8 (View College Basketball bet percentages).

Senior guard Michael Flowers made a go-ahead 3-pointer with two seconds remaining, then stole the inbounds pass to seal Wisconsin's 67-66 win over then-No. 9 Texas on Saturday. It was just Texas' third home loss of the last three seasons, and it helped the Badgers (10-2) close non-conference play on a four-game win streak.

They'll try to extend that run as they look to win their fifth straight Big Ten opener. Wisconsin beat Minnesota 68-45 in last season's conference opener en route to 13 Big Ten wins and 30 total victories - both school records.

"It's the first game and you're always trying to get in the left-hand column, so you prepare just as you did for your non-conference games," said Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan, whose team hasn't opened Big Ten play with a loss since falling 66-65 at Michigan on Jan. 8, 2003.

"We're not looking to February or anything. We're looking to January 2 here and preparing for the next 40 minutes."

Wisconsin faces a Michigan team that has lost six of its last seven, including a 69-54 defeat against then-No. 8 UCLA on Dec. 22. The Wolverines (4-8) had a three-point halftime lead before fading in the second half.

"We played a very good team today," said Michigan forward DeShawn Sims, who led the team with 12 points and six rebounds. "Obviously, we're not content with the result but we can still take some key things away from this ballgame and roll them over into the Big Ten season."

Under first-year coach John Beilein, Michigan has stumbled to its worst 12-game start since it was 2-10 in 1981-82.

Part of the reason the Wolverines have struggled, however, is the fact that they've played one of the toughest schedules in the nation. They've already faced four ranked teams, losing each of those games by at least 14 points.

"That's the best 4-8 team in the country," UCLA coach Ben Howland said after his team won in Ann Arbor. "They are going to be very good, especially in this building."

The Wolverines, though, have lost three of four at Crisler Arena, and are in danger of dropping three straight there for the first time since a five-game skid Jan. 22-Feb. 20, 2005. That losing streak began with a 72-61 defeat to Wisconsin.

That was Wisconsin's lone win in Ann Arbor in six seasons under Ryan. The Badgers have won five of their last seven against the Wolverines - including a 71-58 home victory in their lone meeting last season - but are just 1-2 on the road in that stretch.

Winning at Michigan could be even more challenging if leading scorer Trevon Hughes remains sidelined. Hughes, a sophomore guard averaging 15.1 points, missed the Texas game with a sprained ankle and is questionable for Wednesday.

Michigan's roster has also been depleted as the Wolverines have lost three reserve players since Beilein was hired. K'Len Morris and Kendric Price both left the program earlier this year for personal reasons, and Jerret Smith was dismissed by Beilein last week for not meeting the expectations for a student-athlete.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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