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The Starting 5: Badgers vs. Iowa basketball preview

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An up and down season for the Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team took a turn for the better last time out. The Badgers return to the Kohl Center resulted in a blowout of the previously winless in the Big Ten Illinois Fighting Illini.

On Tuesday night, Wisconsin goes to a place it hasn’t really liked much in the past — Carver-Hawkeye Arena — to take on the Iowa Hawkeyes. Sure, Wisconsin is on a three-game win streak at Iowa, but that is just the second longest streak it has had in program history away to the Hawkeyes.

A win would move these Badgers in to a tie with the 1912-18 versions of the team for the longest win streak on the road vs. Iowa.

With tip scheduled for 6pm CT on ESPN2, this is a massive opportunity for this team to get some big time momentum going. But, what are the points of interest in this contest?

Let’s get down to The Starting 5 for Badgers vs. Hawkeyes, the basketball edition.

Growing Pains

Wisconsin has had a rough go of it after losing four starters off lat season’s team, but they aren’t the only former Big Ten contender that has struggled this season.

Meet the Iowa Hawkeyes, who are just 1-7 in Big Ten play entering this game and struggling with a lot of young players taking on key roles for the team too.

However, Iowa has two big men that could give the Badgers something to worry about. The combination of Tyler Cook and Luke Garza are averaging a healthy 31 points per game in 10 home games this season. They are averaging 25.4 points per game combined on the season as a whole too, so the Badgers lack of height up front could be an area of concern, even if the two are younger players going up against vets like Ethan Happ and Khalil Iverson.

But, those big men are also part of a team that hasn’t stopped anyone in Big Ten play and Wisconsin is coming off it’s best overall game of the season.

Is this going to be the case of Wisconsin on the upswing and Iowa continuing to struggle to figure out who it is?

Bohannon Alert

It was fun to have a Bohannon on the Badgers side of things, but not so much when the third brother chose the Hawkeyes after Wisconsin refused to offer him. He took that anger out on the Badgers last season, hitting the game-winning three pointer to lift his team to victory in Madison…all of it after his team was down by as many as nine points late.

This season, Bohannon is pouring it in at a 13.9 points per game clip, which is second on the team amongst four players averaging double figures. That includes five made three pointers in each of the last three games for Iowa…and we all know the Badgers’ struggles in perimeter defense. He’s also becoming a dangerous passer of the ball, with four games of 10-plus assists.

Wisconsin simply has to shut him down, and a one-armed Brad Davison against Bohannon will certainly be interesting to watch.

Bad Defense, Badgers Advantage

If there was any bigger clue as to why Illinois is winless in the Big Ten this season, watching Wisconsin’s struggling offense just shred the Illini defense should’ve ben a big clue.

Let’s just say defense hasn’t been a foray of the Hawkeyes much this season either. Iowa comes in to this game dead last in team defense in Big Ten games only (84.5 points per game), while allowing teams to shoot 50 percent from the field and is also dead last in scoring margin in Big Ten games only.

Couple that with the confidence gained against an equally bad Illinois defense and one has to wonder if the Badgers confidence goes on to do something great in this game too.

Single Digit Game?

History suggests these two teams put on a good show for the neutral watcher (not sure there are a lot of those for these two mediocre teams), as nine of the last 11 games have been decided by single digits. That certainly makes for entertaining finishes.

Yet, that history is likely to be tested by two teams who are used to blowout games in Big Ten play. Iowa has only had three games in league play not be losses by 10-plus points, including its lone win which came in overtime against Illinois.

Wisconsin has been blown out a lot too, but they have been just as capable of blowing teams out too. Don’t forget those wins over Illinois and Indiana, because Wisconsin has picked apart those bad teams and Iowa is up there on the bad team scale.

It seems like this one is ripe for not being a close one for a change.

Trice Watch

Wisconsin seems on the upswing with its last performance, but it was just one game and more reinforcements would certainly be helpful. There’s a chance for that to happen sooner than later, as sophomore point guard D’Mitrick Trice is on the mend after foot surgery in December.

He has been seen working his way back in to shape on the court with the Badgers in practice. However, we still don’t know exactly when he will be back in uniform for a game. Could it happen on Tuesday night against the Hawkeyes?

Prediction:

Wisconsin 77, Iowa 60

Confidence can be a dangerous thing for a young team like Wisconsin and I’m banking on that being a good dangerous thing. Illinois was the performance this team needed, as Davison did some dirty work (10-10 from free throw line), Happ continued being a double-double machine and Brevin Pritzl helped from beyond the arc.

Iowa’s defense is equally as bad as Illinois and despite the Jordan Bohannon effect, this one should be an easy road win for the Badgers. If not, you can kiss making a crazy run through February goodbye.

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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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