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The Starting 5: Wisconsin vs. Milwaukee basketball preview

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After a hot start to the 2017-18 season, the Wisconsin Badgers have run in to trouble with top competition. However, a return home to the Kohl Center for a Black Friday affair with the Milwaukee Panthers could be just what the doctor ordered.

Wisconsin comes in having lost three straight, all to ranked opponents (No. 15 Xavier, No. 22 Baylor and No. 23 UCLA). The temptation may be to think the Badgers are going to get back on track easily with the return home against an in-state foe, but Milwaukee comes in with plenty of confidence of its own.

Can a return home be enough or will the Panthers prove too tough a test for the changing Badgers? Let’s take a look at the five things to know about this game.

1. Milwaukee comes in with just one loss so far this season

The temptation always is to think of an in-state Horizon League foe as easy pickings for the Badgers, but the Panthers come in to this one at 4-1 on the season. It’s not just the hot start, one of those four wins came over Big 12 power Iowa State. So, Wisconsin better be on its game or it could be in for an upset at the Kohl Center. The Panthers certainly aren’t going to be intimidated. On the flip side, Milwaukee’s one loss was a bad one, coming against D2 opponent Concordia-St. Paul in the Black and Gold Shootout earlier this month.

2. Wisconsin is still well-respected by the stat machines

A 2-3 start was not ideal for Wisconsin, especially with all three losses coming to ranked opponents. However, there isn’t a lack of respect for the Badgers by the numbers. Wisconsin comes in to today’s matchup ranked No. 32 in the country by KenPom.com. What is really interesting is to see the Badgers evened out in the offensive and defensive categories. UW comes in to the game No. 52 in adjusted offense and No. 24 in adjusted defense, meaning they actually measure out well against the rest of the country despite the shaky start to the season. It also doesn’t hurt that they’ve played the No. 66-ranked schedule in the country either.

3. Three starters are averaging double figures for Wisconsin

Despite some of the troubles the Badgers have had with stopping opponents on the other end, scoring hasn’t been a problem for this team on offense. With the emergence of freshman Brad Davison in the starting lineup, Wisconsin now has three starters averaging double figures coming in to this game. Star forward Ethan Happ leads the way, averaging 19.0 points per game. Davison is second on the team with 10.4 points per game and fellow guard D’Mitrick Trice is averaging 10.2 points per game. Trice may be the most interesting one to watch in this trio, as he struggled against both Xavier and Baylor, scoring just 12 points combined in those two games. He rebounded with 14 points in the loss to UCLA on Tuesday though.

4. Milwaukee’s new head coach has had past success against the Badgers

UWM had to hire a new head coach this offseason, and they dipped in to the Big Ten to find said new head coach. Former Northwestern assistant Pat Baldwin took over the program in June, and you can bet he’s very familiar with the Badgers. Baldwin coached under Chris Collins for the last four years in Evanston and went 3-3 against the Badgers in the regular season during those four years.

5. Happ is reaching historic territory already

It’s early in the season, but the numbers Ethan Happ is putting up are out of this world. He’s not only averaging 19.0 points, but also has 9.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game to date. Those numbers lead the Badgers in each category, but Happ is also the only major conference player to average those numbers in the entire country. If he can keep up or even improve on those numbers, Happ could becoming only the third player in the country to average at least 19 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists per game. The other two were pretty dang good players too — Ohio State star Evan Turner and LSU’s Ben Simmons.

Prediction: Wisconsin 80, Milwaukee 66

There is some reason to be measured in this contest, as Milwaukee found a way to bite the Cyclones already this season. However, they also went ahead and lost to a D2 school. Having seen some of the film on the Panthers already this season, I’m convinced the Iowa State win was more fluke than indicative of anything great the Panthers are going to accomplish. Add in the fact that Wisconsin has been competitive in three losses to ranked opponents and this should be the medicine needed before a trip to Virginia in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge. Look for Happ to dominate down low and for Davison to have a huge game on the outside.

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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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