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 teamrankings.com.
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.
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.
Former Badgers get No. 2 seed in The Basketball Tournament Columbus regional
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.
Badgers play final card in attempt to land 2020 G Johnny Davis
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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