Tournament time is when seniors are supposed to shine. Wisconsin’s big-named seniors did just that on Thursday night, leading the Badgers to an 84-74 victory over Virginia Tech in an NCAA tournament Round of 64 matchup.
Point guard Bronson Koenig went off from deep, hitting a school record eight three-pointers en route to 28 points on the night. Fellow senior, Nigel Hayes, added a double double with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Even the bench got involved, as sophomore forward Khalil Iverson added a needed 11 points and seven rebounds in the win. He did most o his damage down low, including drawing plenty of attention from the Hokies defenders, resulting in Iverson going 7-of-10 from the free throw line.
Virginia Tech kept things close until the final minute, in large part due to senior Zach LeDay. He led all Hokies with 23 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the field. He also had four rebounds, while Ty Outlaw chipped in a team-high seven rebounds to go with 16 points in the loss.
The start felt very familiar to those who have seen this team all season. Wisconsin made a few early shots, but then went ice-cold from the field. A 2-of-11 start from the field also led to the Hokies taking a 10-6 lead with 14:10 to play in the first half.
However, the Badgers didn’t give up and kept it close with some good defensive effort and some streaky three-point shooting. Eventually the shooting came around UW answered with a 12-2 run near the middle of the first half. At that point it was Wisconsin up 20-14 with 9:05 to play in the half.
That all happened with sophomore center Ethan Happ on the bench after picking up his second foul before the 10-minute mark of the first half. He had just two points in the half.
Koenig knocked down a three-pointer to put the Badgers up 13-12 with 11:46 to go in the first half and Wisconsin didn’t give up the lead again in the half — leading 34-30 at intermission.
The senior guard was also critical to UW’s production from beyond the arc, hitting three of his eight made three-pointers in the first half alone. It led to Koenig leading all players with 11 points in the first 20 minutes of the game.
Coming in to the game, rebounding was one of the major talking points and it was surely a huge help to the Badgers in the first half. UW allowed Virginia Tech to shoot 50% from the field and countered by shooting just 37.5 percent. However, an 11-3 advantage in offensive rebounds led to a 21-12 advantage in overall rebounds.
UW kept at it on the boards, winning that battle 43-28 on the night and out-rebounding the Hokies 21-12 on the offensive glass.
It was a good thing, as even Koenig’s big night beyond the arc couldn’t fully shake the Hokies. That was in large part because Virginia Tech took advantage of Wisconsin’s inability to work well with the pick and roll. It led to a massive advantage at the free throw line, as the Hokies connected on 16 of 21 free throw attempts in the second half alone.
Their work at the free throw line kept this game close for large stretches, but eventually UW’s hot three-point shooting and its ability to connect at the charity stripe were just too much.
Wisconsin never led by more than six points until late. In fact, the Hokies were dangerously close to taking the game over more than once in the second half.
The game never got closer than UW’s 60-59 lead with 8:51 to play in the game. Koenig responded with a three-pointer and it kept the Hokies at bay until just a few minutes later.
With Wisconsin leading 67-61 and seemingly pulling away, LeDay and guard Seth Allen combined for a 5-0 run to pull Va Tech within a point. After trading buckets, it was once again Koenig and his clutch play beyond the arc that broke a near deadlock.
His make from deep put the Badgers up 72-68 with 5:17 to play, but it wasn’t enough to completely put away the Hokies. Instead, the game kept crawling along until Hayes and Ethan Happ stepped up for a 5-0 run that put Wisconsin up 79-73 with 1:21 to play.
From there it was all Wisconsin, who made five of its final six free throws and iced the game away.
The late-game heroics at the line were unexpected but a welcome sight as well. Just how unexpected though? Try this:
#Badgers shot 76.0 percent from the free throw line. Best mark since Dec. 23 vs. Florida A&M (min. 10 attempts).
— Evan Flood (@Evan_Flood) March 17, 2017
Wisconsin advances to take on No. 1 overall seed Villanova in a Round of 32 matchup on Saturday at 1:40p.m. CT on CBS.
Carlson commits to Badgers 2020 basketball class
It appears the 2020 Wisconsin Badgers basketball class has come to a close.
The four-star center chose the Badgers over a who’s who of basketball offers in the Midwest including Ohio State, Xavier, Stanford, Purdue, Creighton, Iowa, Colorado, Minnesota, Iowa State, Kansas State, Wake Forest, and others.
Much like Crowl, Carlson took his official visit to Madison earlier this month for the Central Michigan football game.
Carlson comes to the Badgers as the No. 15 ranked forward in the entire country per the 247Sports composite rankings, the No. 82 ranked player overall and with a .967 grade from the composite.
He was high up the Badgers list for a long time, even as they targeted other highly rate options at forward like Jalen Johnson. However, as the board began to shake out, it was clear the Badgers wanted Carlson no matter what Johnson or anyone else was going to do in this class.
It appears that the relationship that Carlson formed with the current roster while on his visit is what put the Badgers over the top in this lengthly recruitment.
“A big focus was on getting to know the players, so I hung out with them a lot,” Carlson told Badger247. “They talked about how the coaching staff tells you straight-up how everything is going to be, they don’t sugarcoat anything. They told me about how much they liked it there.”
“I had a pretty good idea of how Wisconsin was going in,” he continued. “The biggest thing was getting to know the players and I really liked them. I know about the history and the campus, but getting to know the players was big for sure.”
Adding this type of nationally known name to an already big class is huge for the Badgers. In fact, UW has the No. 4 ranked class per the 247Sports composite team rankings.
It would be the highest the Badgers have ever finished in the rankings, with the 2006 class under Bo Ryan the next highest at No. 20 in the country.
Wisconsin is getting easily one of the most skilled big men in the class and an instant impact type of player. What has been a question mark up front could easily be a strength of this team quickly thanks to Carlson and Crowl’s commitments to the class.
Badgers add 4-star center to 2020 basketball class
What could be a historic recruiting class for the Wisconsin Badgers got another boost on Tuesday as 4-star center Steven Crowl verbally committed to the Badgers.
He went on his official visit this past weekend and apparently it was all he needed to see.
Crowl has since cancelled trips to other contenders like Colorado, Iowa, and Northern Iowa. He also had an offer from the in-state Gophers and was thinking about a visit there.
However, his official visit for the Central Michigan football game weekend was all he needed to pull the trigger on a commitment to Gard and the Badgers.
Crowl joins an already loaded Badgers 2020 class that includes in-state star Johnny Davis and his twin brother Jordan Davis, as well as the No. 25 ranked point guard in the country according to the 247Sports composite rankings, Lorne Bowman.
This class also already has preferred walk-on Carter Gilmore, who chose that offer over other mid-major D1 offers and saw his recruitment pick up considerably in the July evaluation period.
While his name wasn’t a hot one on the recruiting trail, he was a late riser and currently sits as the No. 102 ranked player in the class overall and the No. 17 center in the nation per the 247Sports composite rankings.
The St. Paul, Minn. native is also continuing the pipeline of players coming from the cross-border rival Gopher state. He comes from the same AAU program — Minnesota D1 — that produced both Tyler Wahl and Nate Reuvers.
With Crowl in the fold, Wisconsin has added 12 players from the state of Minnesota in the 247Sports composite era, according to Badger247.
When you take a look at Crowl’s film, what you see is someone that has begun to both physically and mentally mature. He’s got the skill set that UW likes out of their bigs as well, with a nice looking shot from the outside.
However, what you also see on tape is someone that may need to take a year to adjust to the college game and that may be perfectly fine with the coaching staff as they still will have Nate Reuvers and Tyler Wahl to work with up front as starters.
It will be interesting to see how Crowl digests the speed of the college game early on. If he can adjust to that and the physicality, he may indeed find himself in the rotation quickly though.
He is certainly in the mold of what has become the classic Wisconsin big man.
Former Badger Jon Leur traded to Milwaukee Bucks
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.
Badgers basketball land Davis twins
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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