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Badgers Basketball Preview: Maryland edition

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The Basics:

Where: Madison, Wis.; Kohl Center (17,287)
When: Sunday, Feb. 19; Noon CT
Channel: CBS (Brad Nessler & Clark Kellogg)
Spread: Wisconsin -9
All-Time Series: Wisconsin leads 6-4
Last Meeting: Wisconsin won 70-57; Feb. 13, 2016 (College Park, Md.)

The matchup most Badgers fans have had circled on the schedule for a better part of a month is finally here. It also has lived up to the potential hype, as the matchup is all about the Big Ten regular season title.

It’s as simple as the winner stays in the race, while the loser bows out. With Purdue owning wins over both the Terps and Badgers the loser would no longer control its destiny in the race.

What we won’t know is Bronson Koenig’s status for this game, but it should be telling that UW’s game nots have Trice making the start in place of Koenig. That means a very interesting matchup just got more interesting to say the least.

Can UW get the job done at home and end a two-game losing streak? It certainly won’t be easy with the visitors riding high after a win over Northwestern in Evanston the last time out.

Projected Starting Lineups

No. 23 Maryland Terrapins (22-4 10-3)

G Melo Trimble — Jr. 6-3, 185 (17.2 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 3.5 apg)
G Anthony Cowan — Fr. 6-0, 170 (10.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 3.7 apg)
F Kevin Huerter — Fr. 6-7, 190 (9.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.5 apg)
F Justin Jackson — Fr. 6-7, 225 (11.0 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 0.9 apg)
C Damonte Dodd — Sr. 6-11, 250 (6.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 0.4 apg)

No. 11 Wisconsin Badgers (21-5, 10-3)

G D’Mitrick Trice — Fr. 6-0, 178 (5.7 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 1.7 apg)
G Zak Showalter — Sr. 6-3, 185 (8.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.9 apg)
F Nigel Hayes Sr. 6-8, 240 (13.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 2.8 apg)
F Vitto Brown Sr. 6-8, 235 (7.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.0 apg)
C Ethan Happ — So. 6-10, 280 (14.5 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 2.9 apg)

Matchup to Watch: Melo Trimble vs. Zak Showalter

This would usually be the matchup between two of the best guards in the Big Ten, but with Bronson Koenig out today and for the foreseeable future, it won’t happen. It also means that on defense we’re likely to see UW’s best perimeter defender take on someone his own size.

No way does freshman D’Mitrick Trice get the call against one of the best pure scorers in the Big Ten. That’s not to say he isn’t a good defender, it just would be a complete physical mismatch, and Showalter on Trimble is the better defensive matchup.

Last time out Trimble simply went off, scoring a career high 32 points in a crucial win over Northwestern. Clearly the best defender needs to be on Trimble.

Additionally, Wisconsin needs to see Showalter help them out offensively. He was nowhere to be found when the team needed him most from beyond the arc on Thursday and that has to change if UW is going to get a result in this matchup.

No pressure, but this game could be on Showalter’s ability to contribute on both ends of the court today.

3 Numbers to Know

— 6: That is the number of games in a row Wisconsin has failed to shoot over 40 percent from the field. Simply put, Wisconsin’s offense needs to get going and continue to roll if it wants a chance to do some damage come tournament time. An injured Koenig wasn’t helpful to that matter, but even without him the Badgers couldn’t up the shooting percentage. If it wants to beat Maryland it has to shoot better than 40 percent, plain and simple.

— 10.5: That is Ethan Happ’s rebounding average in two career games against Maryland. One way to help a team struggling to shoot is to rebound well, and few in the Big Ten are better on the boards than Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ. He has owned the Terps on the boards so far in his career, and having that continue on Sunday would be a huge help to Wisconsin’s chances.

— 13.7: That is Nigel Hayes’ career scoring average against the Terps. As we pointed out earlier this week, no player has done more talking about Wisconsin’s problems than Hayes has. He also failed to back up the talk with his own play against Michigan, hitting on just 3 of 7 shots and basically being invisible for large parts of the game. He’s shown up huge against the Terps though, and perhaps this high-profile meeting will get the juices flowing for Hayes.

Prediction

Maryland 68, Wisconsin 60

As much as it is tempting to think the Badgers are going to find a way out of their slump, I don’t see it happening against a really good Terps team. Even playing at the Kohl Center hasn’t helped Wisconsin’s offensive woes as of late.

It also doesn’t help that it appears the coaching staff is grasping at straws in terms of contributors not named Trice or Iverson off the bench. No one outside of those two has been able to give UW the punch needed to get them going, whether it has been Brevin Pritzl, Jordan Hill, Charlie Thomas or Alex Illikainen.

Heck, even Aaron Moesch has been known to make a first half appearance or two as well. Wisconsin hasn’t shown signs of life, and until its bench can show it can help out beyond one player that’s not good news against a deep and athletic Terps team.

Maryland really doesn’t have the problems UW does, and that will be the difference for the Terps as they end Wisconsin’s hopes of a Big Ten regular season title and send UW back to the drawing board with a third straight loss.

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Badgers Basketball

Former Badger Jon Leur traded to Milwaukee Bucks

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They say you can always go home, and for one former Wisconsin Badger he’s coming back to a state he called home for four years.

Former Badgers forward Jon Leuer was traded early on Thursday morning from the Detroit Pistons to the Milwaukee Bucks. In exchange for Leuer, the Bucks gave up the 30th overall pick in tonight’s NBA Draft and traded away Tony Snell.

Last season, Leuer played in 41 games for the Pistons and made just one start. He averaged 3.8 points and 2.4 rebounds per game in his ninth season in the NBA.

Leuer is a very similar player to Snell, but comes at a much more team-friendly salary.

In trading away Snell, the Bucks free up an additional $4 million in salary this year and another $12 million next year.

This could be seen as a way for the Bucks to pony up the big money that Khris Middleton wants from the team in order to stay in Milwaukee.

As for Leuer, he is 17th on the all-time Badgers scoring list with 1,376 points to his name. He also finished his career with 551 rebounds.

Leuer’s final season in Madison was his best statistically, as he helped lead the 2010-11 Badgers team to the Sweet 16. He averaged 18.3 points and 7.2 rebounds per game that year.

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Badgers Basketball

Badgers basketball land Davis twins

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After missing out on the Hauser brothers late last month, the Wisconsin Badgers added a different pair of siblings on Saturday night.

Following an offer to the brother of 4-star shooting guard Johnny Davis and an appearance at a team camp this weekend, the Davis brothers announced their pledge to the Badgers according to Badger247.

It took less than a week after head coach Greg Gard gave the O.K. to offer Jordan for the pair to commit to Wisconsin.

Johnny held offers from Marquette, West Virginia, Iowa, Minnesota, DePaul, UNLV and others.

Jordan had offers from UW-Milwaukee and Green Bay, while also becoming a sought after recruit on the football field as well. Once he became serious about wanting to play basketball first, it seemed like a matter of time before Wisconsin offered.

That time came after seeing Jordan play in a camp last weekend.

It also came because it was time to figure out if Johnny was serious about the Badgers or not.

With the July evaluation period coming up, Wisconsin’s coaching staff put the final chips in the middle with this recruitment and it appeared to pay off.

Johnny joins as the No. 141 ranked player in the country and the No. 14 ranked combo guard in the nation according to the 247Sports composite rankings.

The twins will join Detroit, Mich. native Lorne Bowman in the 2020 class.

Wisconsin still has one scholarship available in the class as well, which is likely being held for 5-star and Wisconsin native Jalen Johnson.

After missing out on talented in-state players over and over again, this was a major win for Gard and his coaching staff considering how hard schools like West Virginia and Marquette were after Johnny’s commitment.

As for Jordan, it appears the coaching staff believes he is improving enough to get a scholarship and continue his improvement with this program.

Offers don’t come out just because it may win over a different recruit at Wisconsin. That wasn’t Bo Ryan’s style and it also isn’t Greg Gard’s style.

The trio of players put the Badgers at No. 8 in the country and No. 3 in the Big Ten in the 2020 class as of today.

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Badgers Basketball

Former Badgers get No. 2 seed in The Basketball Tournament Columbus regional

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Who doesn’t want $2 million? That’s the prize at stake for winning The Basketball Tournament and a group of former Wisconsin Badgers want in.

On Tuesday it was officially announced that the Kohl Blooded team — spearheaded by former Badgers point guard Kam Taylor — will be the No. 2 seed in the Columbus regional.

They will take on No. 7 seed Mid-American Unity, which is making its second appearance in the TBT after a year off. That group represents teams from across the Mid-American conference.

As for the Badgers, the roster will be made up of some very strong names from the past. The headline names include members of the back-to-back Final Four teams in Nigel Hayes and Vitto Brown. Also joining will be Jordan Taylor, Ryan Evans, Trevon Hughes and recent grad Charles Thomas. You can see the full roster here.

The regionals will take place July 19-21 in Columbus with the winner of this regional meeting seven other winners in Chicago for championship week.

All games will be broadcast on the ESPN family of networks, so you should be able to find them either streaming or on cable television.

Kohl Blooded vs. Mid-American Unity will tip at 1pm ET on Friday, July 19.

The winner will take on the winner of Red Scare (Dayton alumni) and The Region (players from Northwest Indiana) in the regional semi-final the next day.

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Badgers Basketball

Badgers play final card in attempt to land 2020 G Johnny Davis

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A week after losing out on Joey and Sam Hauser, the Wisconsin Badgers basketball program needs some positive momentum on the player acquisition front.

With three scholarships available in the 2020 class and two top in-state players in their sites, the Badgers coaching staff has been about as patient as possible.

On Wednesday, Badger247 reports that UW has offered Jordan Davis, the twin brother of top target Johnny Davis. It’s not a walk-on or grayshirt, but a full scholarship offer.

After two years of waiting for that offer to come, it finally did.

Jordan is an unranked player in basketball at this time, but I expect that to change once the scouting services catch wind of this offer. Johnny Davis is the No. 131 ranked player in the country, a 4-star rated prospect and the No. 3 ranked player in the state of Wisconsin in the 2020 class.

With the brothers set to make a weekend visit for team camp in two weeks, this is a move that undoubtably puts the pressure squarely on Johnny Davis at this point.

Simply put, the Badgers need to know if Davis is going to commit or if they need to move on.

Offering Jordan a full ride is about the only thing left in the Badgers quiver at this point. If getting the dream of playing basketball together at the same school and in-state no less doesn’t tip the scales, at least the Badgers know they can move on.

Is it a desperate move? In some ways one could see it as such. Clearly the Badgers want Johnny in a major way and they see offering Jordan as a critical move that could separate themselves from the competition.

However, this also isn’t a coaching staff willing to just throw away a scholarship in an effort to get a coveted player to play for them. That’s simply not Greg Gard’s style.

Jordan is also a player they see as a contributor, or he wasn’t getting an offer. Plain and simple.

There’s no doubt that this move ups the pressure, like I mentioned before. But, that’s not a bad thing, as UW needs to know where they stand heading in to July’s evaluation period.

If the Davis brothers can’t commit or at least internally give the coaching staff the information that will make them feel comfortable, they need to start getting offers out to other big time players whom they’ve been waiting to offer.

Consider UW is an underdog to land in-state five-star prospect Jalen Johnson, and you have to consider this move a smart one for the long term prospects of the 2020 class.

Will the Davis twins jump at the offer to play together at Wisconsin?

Some in the recruiting world believe this was the situation that was holding Wisconsin back all along. So, don’t be surprised to see this affect the recruitment of both players in a big way.

As for Jordan, his game has also caught the attention of Iowa and Minnesota and he did have scholarship offers from both Green Bay and Milwaukee prior to this one.

What may have really held the Badgers coaching staff and others back was the fact that Jordan is also a good player on the football side and wasn’t sure which sport he wanted to pick.

It seems like UW has gotten the clue that Jordan may be more receptive to a basketball future and pulled the trigger on the offer.

We’ll see how much longer the two stay uncommitted, but don’t be surprised to see something happen following July’s AAU season.

Letting that play out and getting all the offers out there on the table is just a smart move for the twins. From there, it’s up to them and clearly the Badgers have left no stone unturned in this situation.

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