Badger Basketball Preview: Creighton Bluejays edition

The Basics

Where: Omaha, Neb. (CenturyLink Center)
When: 7:30p.m. CT
Channel: Fox Sports 1
All-Time Series: Tied 1-1
Last Meeting: 84-74 Creighton Victory in 2012 (Las Vegas)

Projected Starting Lineups

No. 22 Creighton Bluejays (1-0)

G Mo Watson- Sr. 5-10, 175 (14.1 ppg, 3.4  rpg, 6.5 apg)
G Marcus Foster- Jr. 6-3, 210 (12.5 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 1.9 apg)
G Khyri Thomas- So. 6-3, 205 (6.2 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.4 apg)
F Cole Huff- Sr. 6-8, 220 (11.3 ppg, 5.1 rpg, .6 apg)
C Justin Patton- Fr. 7-0, 230 (N/A)

No.9 Wisconsin Badgers (1-0)

G Bronson Koenig – Sr. 6-3, 190 (13.1 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.4 apg)
G Zak Showalter – Sr. 6-3, 185 (7.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.2 apg)
F Nigel Hayes – Sr. 6-8, 240 (15.7 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 3.0 apg)
F Vitto Brown – Sr. 6-8, 235 (9.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 0.8 apg)
C Ethan Happ – So. 6-10, 232 (12.4 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 1.3 apg)

Biggest Matchup: Mo Watson vs Bronson Koenig

COLLEGE PARK, MD - FEBRUARY 13: Bronson Koenig #24 of the Wisconsin Badgers celebrates after hitting a shot in the second half against the Maryland Terrapins at Xfinity Center on February 13, 2016 in College Park, Maryland. Wisconsin won 70-57. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
COLLEGE PARK, MD – FEBRUARY 13: Bronson Koenig #24 of the Wisconsin Badgers celebrates after hitting a shot in the second half against the Maryland Terrapins at Xfinity Center on February 13, 2016 in College Park, Maryland. Wisconsin won 70-57. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Watson may be undersized, but he is one of the best point guards in the country. The shifty senior averaged 14 points and 6.5 assists per game last season on his way to the Second Team All-Big East.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin has a veteran point guard of their own. After averaging 13 points per game last season, Koenig has come back quicker, stronger, and better than before. He is also a great shooter and has the size to pose problems for Watson.

Both point guards are going to have the ball in their hands a lot on Tuesday night, especially if the game is close late. If Koenig is able to gain the upperhand in this matchup, Wisconsin will win. But if Watson is able to get hot, there is a very realistic upset possibility.

3 Numbers to Know

-52: That is the combined number of points Creighton’s three starting guards scored in their season opener on Friday. Sure, it was against UMKC (whatever that is) but that doesn’t change the fact that this is one of the best backcourts in the country.

You already know about Watson, but he is joined by uber-talented Kansas State transfer Marcus Foster and breakout star Khyri Thomas. That trio will make them tough for anybody to beat.

-12: The number of offensive rebounds Creighton surrendered to UMKC. Wisconsin will have a massive advantage on the glass, as the Bluejays start three players 6 foot 3 or shorter.

-29: The number of three pointers Wisconsin attempted in their season opener against Central Arkansas. If the Badgers want to survive their first true test of the season, they would be wise not to launch nearly as many three pointers. They will have a huge advantage in the paint, and should look to feed Happ and Hayes down low. In addition, long misses tend to lead to transition opportunities, which is where Creighton excels.

Prediction

A true road game against a top 25 team is never easy, especially when that team has such a talented backcourt. However, Wisconsin has an advantage in the paint and on the boards. If they can get the ball to their forwards enough, scoring won’t be an issue.

The Badgers also don’t turn the ball over often, and are good at forcing teams to play their pace. That should help limit Creighton’s fast break chances. Mo Watson is a good enough player to keep them in the game, but Wisconsin’s size, tempo, and experience will be just a little bit too much for the Bluejays to handle.

Wisconsin 74 Creighton 66