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Koenig, Hayes lead Wisconsin Badgers back to Sweet 16 in upset of Villanova

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Coming in to the season, the Wisconsin Badgers had dreams of a Final Four run. Those dreams seemed fool’s gold during the regular season.

However, after a huge 65-62 upset of No. 1 seed Villanova on Saturday, those dreams are certainly alive and well once again.

Led by three seniors in double figures, the Badgers pulled off the first real big upset of the 2017 NCAA tournament. Nigel Hayes led the way for Wisconsin, pouring in a game-high 19 points and grabbing eight rebounds.

He also happened to hit the game-winning lay-up with 12 seconds left to play.

Fellow seniors Bronson Koenig and Vitto Brown joined Hayes in double figures, scoring 17 and 10 points respectively. Koenig fought through foul trouble to hit 7 of 11 from the field including 3 of 6 from beyond the arc.

Hays and Koenig took this team on their backs late, helping to put UW on course for a 15-5 run to end the game. The duo combined for 12 of the Badgers’ 15 points to end the game.

Sophomore forward Ethan Happ also chipped in 12 points and eight rebounds despite also battling foul trouble for most of the game.

No one would accuse the 2016-17 Wisconsin Badgers for being a consistent team. After winning in the first round, many wondered how UW would come out in this one.

The answer was relatively on fire.

After Josh Hart put Villanova up 3-0 with a jumper and a made free throw, the Badgers responded with a 9-0 run to go up by six points. That early run helped Wisconsin stay in front of the Wildcats for all but 16 seconds of the rest of the first half.

Villanova took a brief lead as Donte DiVincenzo hit a three-pointer with 13:18 to go in the half. Vitto Brown hit his second triple of the first half to re-take the lead just 16 seconds later though, as UW went up 12-10.

Wisconsin led by as many as eight points in the first half, coming as Nigel Hayes hit a free throw with 9:23 to play in the half. Hayes would only produce five points in the half, but also added four key rebounds.

The two teams traded small runs from there, with both teams going 4 of 11 from beyond the arc.

However, it was Wisconsin’s defensive effort that won the first half for them. UW held Villanova to just 29.6 percent field goal shooting.

Nova stayed in the game in large part thanks to its offensive rebounding effort, collecting 10 boards on offense. With the score at 31-27 at the half it seemed like the magical could happen.

However, there were signs that Villanova was closer to controlling this game than Wisconsin and Greg Gard made note of that during his halftime interview.

It turns out he wasn’t wrong, as the Wildcats and Badgers traded buckets to start the second half. Eventually Villanova got Wisconsin rattled and took advantage of it, going on an 13-4 run to open up a 46-41 lead with 10:44 to play.

frustration was mounting for the Badgers at that point, with an offense out of sync and both Happ and Koenig in deep foul trouble. Wisconsin just wouldn’t let up though, fighting to keep the game close and never going down by more than seven points.

That’s where things completely turned around though. As DiVincenzo hit a three-pointer with 5:28 to play, little did he know it was also the spark under Wisconsin’s comeback.

Hayes and Koenig combined to rattle off seven straight points to even the game up within two minutes time. A lay-up by Happ with 2:33 put the Badgers up 59-58 and ironically it came down to the free throw line for the win.

Villanova came in to the game leading the country in free throw percentage. However, the pressure got to the Wildcats, as they only made 2 of 4 to end the game.

That allowed the Badgers to control the game late and after Hayes’ lay-in, Vitto Brown iced the game away with a made free throw with three seconds left.

Wisconsin moves on to the Sweet 16 for the fourth straight season. They will take on the winner of the No. 4 Florida vs. No. 5 Virginia game next Thursday. Tip time and television will be announced after all games are completed today.

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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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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 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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