Sitting on a five-game winning streak, Maryland is now ranked No. 19 in the country, but another tough test looms with the Wisconsin Badgers coming into College Park on Monday night.

The Badgers and Terrapins have played some legendary games in the past — including Maryland’s signature win in 2015 and Melo Trimble’s game-winner in 2016 — and we talked to Sebastian van Bastelaer, a sports writer at The Daily Cardinal, about what we can expect in the 2019 version of this matchup. His answers have been lightly edited for clarity.

The Badgers have had an up-and-down season so far. Where do you think this team currently ranks in the Big Ten?

As you mentioned, this Wisconsin team has been plagued by inconsistency, so it’s kind of difficult to know for sure. They started out very hot, with victories over a strong Oklahoma team in the Bahamas, at home against NC State in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge, and on the road against Xavier. They also played a tremendous UVA team very close, just as Maryland did. But since then, they’ve lost to their two biggest rivals, Minnesota and Marquette, got smacked in an unusual true road game at Western Kentucky, and let a game slip away at home against Purdue on Friday. Given the murky nature of the conference this year, particularly in the middle of the standings, they could be anywhere from the fourth-best team to the tenth-best. The Badgers aren’t going to hang with squads like Michigan and Michigan State, but they’re pretty clearly better than the bottom four teams. To provide a less evasive answer, I’d say they’re probably the sixth-best team in the Big Ten on an average night.

Obviously Ethan Happ is one of the best players in the country. How far can he take this team?

Happ has been astoundingly consistent throughout his career at Wisconsin. He’s currently averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds per game, and is also the best passer on the team — he’s third in the Big Ten in assists. He’ll end up at or near the top of the school record books in practically every statistical category — points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, you name it. The deft footwork and body control that he demonstrates near the rim is unmatched in the sport.

Now that I’ve sang his praises, I can now point out the limiting factors that may preclude him from leading this team to glory. He can’t stretch the floor whatsoever, and is reluctant to shoot the ball outside of ten feet. For example, in his 121-game career, he’s attempted only 15 three-pointers, 11 of them coming last year. He’s only made one of them. Teams are able to back off of the senior center, knowing he’s no threat to hoist jumpers. That makes this offense more one-dimensional and seriously hurts Happ’s NBA stock.

In a similar vein, his free-throw shooting has left much to be desired. Inexplicably, he’s actually gotten worse in that facet of his game over his career. His freshman year, he shot 64 percent from the line. This year, it’s under 50 percent. As you’ll see, he actually has a pretty good-looking shooting form, and can make a majority of shots in warmups and practice. But for some reason, when the lights are on, the shots don’t fall for him. Minnesota adopted a “Hack-a-Happ” strategy down the stretch a couple weeks ago, and came away with a rare win in Madison. If other teams adopt this strategy, and Ethan fails to make them pay, the Badgers could be headed for an early exit.

Finally, his supporting cast doesn’t compare favorably to the ones he had in his first couple years. Guys like Nigel Hayes, Bronson Koenig and Vitto Brown, who helped lead the Badgers to back-to-back Final Fours in 2014 and 2015, could stretch the floor and make teams pay for focusing on Happ. He was able to find the open man, and the open man tended to hit open shots. The last couple years, he’s distributed the ball just as well, but without true superstars around him, the offense hasn’t hummed quite as much. So I think he could take this team to a Sweet 16, but absent a big bump in production from the rest of the team, I don’t know if it can go much further.

Wisconsin missing the NCAA tournament was such a surprise last season. What has the team done to turn it around this year and again look like a tournament team?

Having just criticized Happ’s supporting cast, I will point out that this team is certainly superior to last year’s. There’s a somewhat-obvious explanation for the improvement. The Badgers lost no key contributors from last year’s team, which actually played well at the end of the campaign. They upended then-No. 6 Purdue, lost by only five to No. 2 Michigan State, and beat Maryland in the Big Ten tournament before again losing to Michigan State, this time by only three. They had an offseason to continue to jell and get on the same page. Furthermore, they’ve been healthier this year. Point guard D’Mitrik Trice and shooting guard Kobe King, two key pieces in this year’s team, both missed almost the entire 2017-2018 season. They’re both back, and contributing. Their return to the lineup has also allowed other players to play their natural positions, a change that has given them more balance and afforded head coach Greg Gard more choice when he looks down his bench.

Besides Happ, who are the players to watch for Wisconsin?

I’ll give you a few players to watch. D’Mitrik Trice is the fulcrum on which this team’s offense hinges. Happ will consistently give you a double-double, that’s a given. But Trice’s ability to spread teams out and hit jumpers tends to make the difference for Wisconsin. He opened the year on a tear, shooting 60 percent from beyond the three-point line through the first nine games, an 8-1 stretch for the Badgers. But in a worrying turn of events for Wisconsin fans, he’s really fallen off in recent weeks. The Badgers are 1-4 when he scores 10 points or fewer. While he’s still at 47 percent from distance for the year, his shot selection and decision-making have suffered in this rough stretch of the season.

Nate Reuvers is Wisconsin’s other starting big man. On his best night, he’s a great complement to Happ. He can stretch the floor and knock down jumpers, forcing defenses to make difficult decisions. He also leads the team in blocks, but sometimes lacks discipline on defense. He tends to disappear in some games, and if he does that again, Wisconsin will be in trouble.

Finally, I have to talk about Brad Davison, also known as “Buzzcut Brad” in Madison. Davison is a classic Wisconsin guy. He’s undersized but scrappy, and works his butt off. His shoulder was dislocated more times than I can count last season, and yet he insisted on continuing to pop it back in and keep playing in what was a lost season for this program. The kid has no off switch: in one of the most memorable moments of the year, during the annual Red and White intrasquad scrimmage, he went careening into the baseline to save a meaningless loose ball, inadvertently hitting a cheerleader in the head with the ball as he flung it back towards the court. He has a penchant for drawing charges — against NC State, he had four or five, inspiring an ESPN “charge montage” and sparking a fatuous national debate about whether he is a “real basketball player.” Rest assured, he can still score from all three levels and is the emotional leader of this team. Similar to recent Badgers like Zak Showalter and Josh Gasser, opposing fan bases don’t love him, and to them it may feel like his career will last six years. But by the time he’s done here, though, he could run for mayor of Madison and win easily.

Finish this sentence. Wisconsin wins if…

Wisconsin wins if it focuses on the fundamentals. The Badgers shot a torrid 54 percent from the field Friday against Purdue, but failed to box out on defense and gave up 17 offensive rebounds. More importantly, they turned the ball over 16 times, a highly unusual event for a team that entered the game ranked second in the country in turnovers per game. If they can make those little fixes and focus on the essentials, they should leave College Park with a victory.

Finish this sentence. Maryland wins if…

Maryland wins if Wisconsin’s supporting cast continues to flounder and/or the matchup comes down to late-game execution and free throws. Wisconsin often seems to lack a plan at the end of games — see its unsightly three-point attempt to win the game in regulation against Purdue. And as I mentioned while discussing Happ, Wisconsin isn’t going to beat anyone in a shooting contest from the charity stripe. Maryland made its final nine free throws against Indiana on Friday, and I can assure you that making nine consecutive free throws is the stuff of fantasy for Wisconsin fans. While the Terps shoot 74 percent from the line, the Badgers convert less than 67 percent, good enough for 279th in the nation. If Wisconsin finds itself trying to win at the line, they might as well prepare to end the night listening to a triumphant chorus of “Maryland, we’re all behind you…”