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The Starting 5: Wisconsin vs. Chicago State preview

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That crazy time between Christmas and New Year’s is here, and if you’re like most of us here at talking10 chances are you only count your days in bowl games and basketball games.

Luckily for you, the Badger fans out there, there are three games between the two sports to go between those two big holidays. Up first is Badger basketball playing host to Chicago State tonight from the Kohl Center.

Chicago State comes in just 2-13 on the season and is one of the worst teams in D1 basketball by just about every metric. So, as bad as you may think things are in Madison, it could really be worse.

With a mismatch in the making, what are the 5 things we’ll be watching?

Will Disparity in Talent Matter?

There’s no question who the better team is heading in to this game. But, Wisconsin has a crazy history of playing down to its level of competition. We’ll be looking to see if the Badgers can avoid complacency and avoid the trap.

Ethan Happ is a massive advantage for the Badgers and young point guard Brad Davison is taking full advantage of his increased role. He scored a game-high 18 points in the blowout win over Green Bay last time out, and he’s had double digits in 8 of the last 11 games. It’s been impressive considering the pressure he’s been under.

But, let’s see if Davison and UW as a whole doesn’t let down against the Cougars.

Can Wisconsin Get Bench Experience?

On paper, this is a massive mismatch between the Badgers and Cougars. That in theory should mean plenty of playing time for some of the younger players on the UW bench. Those minutes could be really important going forward.

With Kobe King out for the rest of the season and D’Mitrick Trice likely not back until the middle of January at the absolute earliest, there is a desperate need for help in the backcourt. So far we’ve seen former walk-on T.J. Schlundt and walk-on Walt McGrory get some bigger minutes in relief.

Getting both of them good minutes is going to be helpful, with just one other game coming before Big Ten play starts in earnest.

Can the Hot Shooting Badgers Continue to Stay Hot?

Disappointment may be the word most fans think of when it comes to the Badgers non-conference results. However, what is getting very little publicity is the fact ever since the Marquette game, the Badgers have found their shooting stroke in a major way.

Over the last two games, Wisconsin is shooting a very healthy 52.4 percent from the field. Combine that with the fact that opponents are shooting 49.4 percent from the field against Chicago State and this one could really get ugly.

Brevin Pritzl has gotten better, Aleem Ford has also stepped up his shooting game and it has been a big help to the two workhorses in Ethan Happ and Brad Davison.

More importantly, a third straight game of quality shooting could be just the confidence boost this team needs to make a crazy run in the Big Ten.

What Changes has Gard Implemented?

Greg Gard went back to the coaching board after an embarrassing loss to Marquette earlier this month, and it paid off in a major way. UW clearly came out as a different team in wins over Western Kentucky and Green Bay.

Scoring 81 points in two game combined might have been expected of the Badgers after the previous few weeks. Instead, Wisconsin poured in 81 points in each of the last two games thanks to the tweaking done by Gard.

UW hasn’t played in five days and there likely wasn’t a whole lot of practice being done around the holidays. Still, with a chance to reflect on what has taken place, will we see some more tweaks or attempts to iron out the rotation even more? A game like this is great to experiment in.

Can Wisconsin break the 90-point mark for the 1st time this season?

Coming in to the Chicago State game, the Badgers best point total was 89 in a 89-61 win over Yale in game two of the season. However, three other Big Ten teams have set the expectation for results against the Cougars — as Iowa, Northwestern and Purdue have each put up at least 90 points a piece on Chicago State.

Those wins where 95-62 for Iowa, 111-42 for Purdue and 96-31 for Northwestern. KenPom has the Cougars ranked No. 346 in the country out of 351 teams. Simply put, this may be the worst team we’ve ever seen come in to the Kohl Center.

If the Badgers don’t break 90 points I’d be kind of upset with the performance to be honest.

Prediction:

Wisconsin 92, Chicago State 55

Ethan Happ cleans up the boards, dominates down low on the other end. Brad Davison is hot early from beyond the arc and Aleem Ford shows he may be a true third scoring option. It all adds up to Wisconsin just crushing the visiting Cougars.

Personally, I can’t wait to see what guys like Nate Reuvers, T.J. Schlundt, Aaron Moesch and Walt McGrory can do with a lot of playing time. Those minutes are going to be invaluable to their learning experience heading in to Big Ten play.

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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 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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