Behind Enemy Lines: Maryland Travels to Wisconsin

The Terps fought off a stingy Illinois team last Friday to move to 8-0, still one of 15 schools at the time who remained unbeaten. Head coach Kevin Willard saw his team benefit from last week’s Big Ten opener, along with the 25-point win over Louisville, as Maryland moved to 13th in updated the AP poll and sixth in the first NET rankings of the season. Next up is a trip to Madison, Wisconsin to take on the Wisconsin Badgers who are not only 6-2. Maryland already handled business in last week’s road opener, but against an expected tougher atmosphere, how do the Terps stack up against the Badgers?

With tomorrow’s game opening as a pick ‘em, Inside the Black and Gold spoke with Matt Belz from All Badgers to delve into what to expect this Tuesday on Tuesday night.

John Gugs: The Terps are a team that have shown they love to push the tempo and make it a fast paced game, while Wisconsin is known to be more of slow it down and grind it out kind of team. Which team do you think will be able to control the tempo better?

Matt Belz: I honestly think Maryland will. The Badgers were able to slow things down in the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis, but the last two games have been in back-and-forth contests against Wake Forest and Marquette. Wisconsin was not nearly as efficient on the defensive end, but rather kept pace with both teams on offense. I think Maryland has the quickness and desire to make this a little faster than the Badgers would ideally like.

JG: Wisconsin has played one ranked team this year, ending is a one point overtime loss to Kansas. What will the Badgers need to do differently to come out with the win this time around?

MB: It all comes down to late-game execution on the offensive end. Wisconsin has seemingly been in close games all year long, and have found a way to win most of them. In their two losses, they have struggled to hit shots late, while Kansas and Wake Forest came up with big plays when they needed to. Wisconsin turned this around on Saturday against Marquette, maybe that will give them some confidence and help them trust their shot attempts in the final minutes.

JG: The Terps are a team that lack size. Once Reese gets in foul trouble the Terps will be a very small team. How much do you expect the Badgers to attack Reese to get him in foul trouble?

MB: I think Wisconsin will do their best to get post-touches for seven-foot center Steven Crowl. Greg Gard wants the offense to move inside out, and Crowl is a phenomenal passer on the block. Against Marquette on Saturday, he had seven assists, and I would assume that the Badgers attempt to get him and Tyler Wahl going inside to not only slow the game down a bit but also try to take advantage of a slight size advantage.

JG: The Badgers shoot 36.2% from three. How important is it for the Badgers to have the three ball going if they want to pull off the upset?

MB: It will be pivotal for Wisconsin to find their stroke from long-range in order to potentially pull off the upset. The Badgers have shot 24 or more threes in their last three games and have shot the ball much better of late. Chucky Hepburn’s resurgence has been a big reason for Wisconsin shooting above 41% from deep in the past three contests, and it will be key to keep him going against Maryland.

JG: The Terps have only had one true road test so far this year which they came out with a 25 point victory over Louisville. How much of a factor do you expect the crowd to be on Tuesday?

MB: The Kohl Center crowd has been strong recently, with the student section very involved. These two teams have always brought out great energy in the crowd and I would expect that to continue on Saturday. I think Maryland will be an extremely tough test for Wisconsin and the Badgers will need the crowd to help keep the team up and in the game.

JG: How do you see the game playing out on Tuesday and why?

MB: I think this game will really come down to which team starts off playing well. The last thing the Badgers want is to get down early against a more athletic Maryland squad. It is always extremely important for road teams to start strong as well, and the Terps will likely come out with a ton of energy at the beginning. I think the Badgers are fortunate to have this game at home because Maryland is playing some really good basketball. The Badgers have played every game close this year and I would expect that to continue on Tuesday night. I see this contest coming down to the final minute of play and a matter of one team making a big shot late. I’ve seen this game play out so many times at the Kohl Center. Last season it was a 1-point game, Brad Davison hit a late shot to win it for Wisconsin in 2020, and I will never forget Melo Trimble’s last-second three to win in Madison back in 2016. I expect another fun one at the Kohl Center.
The Terps will be taking on the Badgers Tuesday December 6th, at 9pm. The game will air on ESPN2.

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