Gophers may take a different approach to defend Wisconsin

Jace Frederick

Sometimes, you can beat a highly-ranked opponent by simply playing good, not great, if your opposition has a bad night and makes a flurry of mistakes.

The Gophers opponent on Wednesday night — No. 9 Wisconsin — doesn't have those games.

On the offensive end, Wisconsin is the sixth most efficient team in the country, according to KenPom.com.

The Badgers are 15th in the country in effective field goal percentage (54.9 percent), and third when it comes to protecting the ball, with a 12.9 turnover percentage (the Gophers, by comparison, have a turnover percentage of 19.1).

"They're really hard to guard," Gophers head coach Richard Pitino said. "Every guy can pass, every guy can shoot. … If you go to trap them, they're going to kick it back out to another shooter."

So maybe the Gophers normally high-pressure defense — which currently sports a 12.1 steal percentage, good for 16th in the country — will take a few less chances on Wednesday night.

"We've got to be smart," Pitino said. "We can't come down and deny the wings, because they've got great back-door plays. You've got to be smart in that regard."

Because taking chances doesn't beat the Badgers. Beating Wisconsin might require a more methodical approach.

"You've got to try to, over a 40 minute period, wear them down," Pitino said, "which is very difficult."