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Vanderbilt’s 3 wins over Florida provide a blueprint to Wisconsin Badgers Sweet 16 victory



The Wisconsin Badgers basketball program has made itself at home in the Sweet Sixteen lately. The 2017 tournament marks the fourth-straight season that UW will be a part of the second weekend of the tournament. 

However, this weekend is unlike those past ones, with the Badgers a seeding underdog. Up next for the Badgers will be the No. 4 seed Florida Gators, which come in to this matchup with a 26-8 overall record.

The Gators also come in to the matchup having made two big statements of its own last weekend. UF dumped East Tennessee State 80-65 in the Round of 64 before crushing Virginia 65-39 to reach the Sweet Sixteen.

Florida also finished with an RPI rank of eighth and just four losses in SEC regular season play.

Two of those regular season losses happen to come from fellow NCAA tournament team, Vanderbilt. The Commodores also took down Florida in the SEC tournament for three wins in three tries against the Gators.

Given that, perhaps there is a blueprint that UW can learn from and implement? Let’s take a look at some things that Vandy did in getting those wins, things Wisconsin may be capable of doing as well.

Hold Florida Under 70 Points

Vanderbilt held the Gators to under 70 points in two of the three matchups they had this season. Florida managed to average just 66.3 points per game through those three matchups in total and only topped the 70-point mark once (a 73-71 result).

It’s also vital as Florida comes in to this game averaging 77.9 points per game this season.

Clearly the goal has to be avoiding a potent Gators offense.

Vanderbilt’s defensive performance in those three games is also good news for the Badgers defense, who are used to holding opponents to low-scoring outputs this season. The good news is that Wisconsin’s defense has been pretty adept at holding opponent to under 70 points this year. UW is allowing opponents just 61.8 points per game on the year.

Wisconsin’s defense has even come up big in the losses, with UW allowing 70-plus points in just five of the nine losses it has suffered so far this season.

Just how rare was Vanderbilt’s defensive prowess against the Gators? Florida scored fewer than 70 points on just six occasions this season, going 2-4 in those six games.

Seeing a pattern?

Put Pressure On Scoreboard Late

Along with averaging a really high 77.9 points per game on the season, Florida has an average scoring margin of +12.2 per game. However, close contests apparently aren’t the Gators’ thing this season.

Not only did Vanderbilt win all three games, all of them were really close. Two were two-point victories and the last was the 10-point overtime victory in the SEC tournament quarterfinals.

Vanderbilt isn’t the only one to tell us that playing close games aren’t good news for the Gators. In the eight losses on the season, Florida has lost by an average of six points and just 48 points in total.

That’s a measure of a team that has trouble finding the magic when it needs to happen.

Of course, winning comfortably would be nice, but history suggests Florida has some problems figuring out how to win a close game. Which brings us to the final takeaway from Vandy’s three wins (and the rest of Florida’s season)…

Hot Second Half

Perhaps no stat in the three Vanderbilt wins should give Badgers fans more comfort than the news that Florida absolutely stunk things up in the second half in all three games. After all, few teams are as good in the second half as the Badgers have been this season.

Vanderbilt went in to the half shooting an average of 39.2 percent and came out shooting 46.4 percent in the second half. The ‘Dores also averaged 30.3 points in the first half and went off for an average of 36 points in the second half of the three contests.

It also was a pattern for most of the eight losses the Gators have suffered on the season. Gonzaga was the first to drop Florida, and did it by shooting 60.7 percent from the field. Overall, opponents who beat Florida did so by shooting an average of 52.9 percent from the field in the second half.

Wisconsin goes in to this game with an average second half scoring margin of +6.6, which is sixth in the nation according to

If the Badgers want to win, they can certainly learn a lot from the formula that Vanderbilt (and others) have used all season long. While the Gators are a good team, there are clearly holes in their game that UW can exploit.


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Badgers Basketball

Badgers basketball lands pair of 4-star players in 2021 class



Witnessing a win over the Northwestern Wildcats must have done the trick, because two of Wisconsin’s biggest targets in the 2021 class both committed on Sunday.

First to commit was the more surprising name, as Top247 point guard Chucky Hepburn.

The No. 23 ranked point guard and No. 141 ranked player in the country per the 247Sports composite rankings chose the Badgers over offers from Minnesota, Nebraska, and Creighton. He also was beginning to see interest from some of the bigger names in college basketball, but chose to pick a team that had been on him for awhile.

“I called coach Gard 30 minutes ago and committed,” Hepburn told Badger247. “The education part was really great. I loved all the academic advisors are part of the basketball program and how they work with them.

“With the basketball side, I fit perfectly with the system they run. I feel like the assistant coaches will help me get where I want to be, because they all played professionally before.”

But, not long after that news broke, word of the biggest target on UW’s list committing would break as well.

Wisconsin would add 4-star forward Matthew Mors to the mix as well.

Mors comes to the Badgers ranked as the No. 115 player in the country and the No. 22 power forward in the nation as well.

The Badgers had been on Mors since his eighth grade year and the persistence paid off, despite other offers across the Big Ten and Big 12 coming to him.

Mors chose Wisconsin over names like Creighton, Iowa State, Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, TCU, and more.

With these two pledges, the Badgers have solidified their 2021 recruiting class rather early and they hit on all their top priority prospects as well.

Hepburn and Mors join fellow 4-star player in 6-8 power forward Chris Hodges. With three 4-star players to their name, the Badgers currently own the No. 1 recruiting class in the country.

Yes, Wisconsin isn’t likely to own that No. 1 ranking by the end of the class, but there’s no doubt that the Badgers have done something special in the 2021 class.

It is a huge statement for head coach Greg Gard after the program missed out on some massive in-state names in the past few classes. Many had begun to wonder if the Badgers could ever hit on big targets with Gard as the head coach.

Those thoughts should be put to rest with this class and how the Badgers closed out the 2020 class prior to this.

It should also be noted that assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft was the lead recruiter on each of the last four overall commitments for the Badgers, including 2020 names Steven Crowl and Ben Carlson.

Of course, we won’t know for a while how these big recruiting numbers stack up once they get on the floor for some time. But, winning on the recruiting trail like this puts the Badgers in a much better spot to be competitive for a very long time than previously thought.

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Badgers Basketball

Carlson commits to Badgers 2020 basketball class



It appears the 2020 Wisconsin Badgers basketball class has come to a close.

A day after forward Steven Crowl committed, we now have word that top target Ben Carlson, a fellow Minnesota native, has committed to the Badgers as well.

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.

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Badgers Basketball

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.

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Badgers Basketball

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.

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