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Thursday, February 16, 2012
Inside play key as Badgers take on Spartans

By ESPN Stats & Information

Two of the top four teams in the Big Ten battle at 7 Eastern on ESPN when the Wisconsin Badgers take on the Michigan State Spartans.

When the two teams met in January, the Spartans snapped an 8-game losing streak in Madison. The Badgers look to return the favor in East Lansing, where they have lost six straight games and haven’t won since 2004.

While Wisconsin has lost four home games this year, its highest total since finishing 8-8 in 1997-98, the Badgers are having their best season away from home since 2007-08.

This year’s squad is 5-1 in Big Ten road games, tied for the most wins since going 8-1 four seasons ago. Four straight road wins in conference are the most since winning six in a row during the same season.

Michigan State is 15-0 at home this season and has won 16 straight home games dating to last season. The last time the Spartans went undefeated at home was the 2007-08 season.

When Michigan State has the ball
Wisconsin’s defense is allowing just 85 points per 100 possessions this season, which ranks second in the nation, according to StatSheet.com. The Badgers lead Division I in scoring defense (50 points per game) and 3-point field-goal defense (27 percent)

Wisconsin’s opponents attempt just 12 3-pointers per game, as more than three-quarters of their shots come inside the arc.

Michigan State attempts the third-fewest 3-pointers in the Big Ten, and when the two teams met earlier this season, the Spartans went inside even more often than usual. Michigan State attempted 55 of its 60 shots inside the arc on Jan. 3, its highest percentage in any game since the start of the 1996-97 season.

When Wisconsin has the ball
Wisconsin excels at making the most out of its possessions. The Badgers turn the ball over on fewer than 15 percent of their possessions, the second-lowest rate in the nation according to StatSheet.

This limits easy opportunities for their opponents, who score less than 8 points per game off turnovers. That’s the lowest against any team from a Power Six conference.

Led by Jared Berggren, Wisconsin has been the Big Ten’s best shot-making team in the post this season, shooting 52 percent.

Michigan State opponents are scoring just 37 percent of the time this season on post-up plays, the lowest rate in the Big Ten. Against Ohio State on Saturday, Michigan State held the Buckeyes to 29 percent shooting in the post.