BuckyCap: Gophers Start Quick & Never Look Back
A few times this Big Ten season, Wisconsin Badgers entered a road arena with a team in need of a win. That was true on Wednesday night too. The Minnesota Golden Gophers find themselves on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament. Minnesota knew that a key win against Wisconsin could help their case to the tournament committee. Despite Wisconsin having nine losses, now 10, they’re a Quad 1 opportunity for Minnesota. Before last night, the Golden Gophers only had three all season. They added another one last night with a dominating performance against Wisconsin, 70-52. It is their largest margin of defeat since 2010 against Minnesota.
Player of the Game: Payton Willis – He could not miss early for Minnesota and help set the tone of the game. Willis drained 3 three-pointers at the start of this one. He ended with five threes and had 21 points for the game. Wisconsin hasn’t yet a lot of guys beat them from deep, and the Golden Gophers are not a good 3-point shooting team. Daniel Oturu, Minnesota star, got his too, but to have another guy beat you like Willis has to be frustrating for Wisconsin.
Honorable Mention: Micah Potter – Boy, once they fix his defense, lookout. Potter was a force last night. In a game featuring an NBA Draft-ready big man, Potter also had himself a night. He finished with 11 points, 15 rebounds in 20 minutes. The 15 rebounds are what stand out to me. Potter dominated the glass in the short time he was in the game. Wisconsin still needs to work on his defense to keep him on the floor versus in short spurts. Not sure if he’s too slow or too heavy, but the Badgers will make that a top priority next offseason.
One Thing I Didn’t Like: Can’t come out flat – This is now the second straight road game where Wisconsin dug a hole early in the game. They did against Purdue and did again last night against Minnesota. That cannot happen on the road in a tough environment. Teams like Minnesota and Purdue will eat you alive.
Next up: Wisconsin welcomes Ohio State on Sunday afternoon. The Buckeyes will be looking for revenge after Badgers beat them earlier this season. Luther Muhammed might not play in this one, and they’re already down D.J. Carton. Buckeyes seem to figure out what went wrong as they’ve won three straight including two road games.