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Wisconsin Badgers Basketball Preview: Indiana in B1G Tourney edition

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The Basics:

When: Friday, March 10; 5:30p.m. CT
Where: Washington, D.C.; Verizon Center (20,356)
Channel: BTN
Spread: Wisconsin -4
All-Time Series: Indiana leads, 95-72
Last Meeting: UW won, 65-60 (2/5/17)

The last time we left you, the Wisconsin Badgers found themselves in a near must-win situation on Senior Day, and said seniors made sure they went out in style. A big win in the Border Battle ended up securing the No. 2 seed in the Big Ten tournament.

However, that win is just the second in the last seven games for UW and a good showing in the B1G tourney is likely needed to move up in the minds of the NCAA tournament selection committee.

In what has been a crazy season throughout the conference, one constant has remained and that is Wisconsin’s domination of Indiana under the direction of Tom Crean. Naturally, the two teams would find themselves meeting in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament.

With two wins in the books, can the Badgers make it a clean sweep and move on as the top remaining seed in the Big Ten tournament? Let’s take a look inside this matchup.

The Lineups:

Indiana Hoosiers (18-14, 7-11 Big Ten)

G Josh Newkirk — Jr. 6-1, 195 (9.2 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 3.2 apg)
G James Blackmon Jr. — Jr. 6-4, 200 (17.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.9 apg)
G Robert Johnson — Jr. 6-3, 195 (13.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.6 apg)
F Juwuan Morgan — So. 6-8, 230 (7.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.1 apg)
C Thomas Bryant — So. 6-10, 255 (12.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.5 apg)

No. 23 Wisconsin Badgers (23-8, 12-6 B1G)

G Bronson Koenig — Sr. 6-3, 190 (14.2 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 2.0 apg)
G Zak Showalter — Sr. 6-3, 185 (8.2 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.7 apg)
F Nigel Hayes Sr. 6-8, 240 (13.5 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 2.9 apg)
F Vitto Brown Sr. 6-8, 235 (6.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.0 apg)
C Ethan Happ — So. 6-10, 280 (13.9 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 2.9 apg)

Matchup to Watch: James Blackmon Jr. vs. Zak Showalter

Blackmon Jr. simply put the Hoosiers on his back yesterday, pouring in 23 points and hitting 7 of 9 from the field. That included knocking down 4 of 5 from three-point range. Those numbers should scare a Wisconsin defense that is allowing opponents to shoot 37.8 percent on the season. That was good for just 12th in the Big Ten this season.

However, Showalter is one of the best defensive guards in the conference and often draws the opponents best shooter for a reason. Showy showed up big in the first game between these two teams in Bloomington, Ind., allowing Blackmon Jr. to only score 10 points and get off just nine shots.

Don’t sleep on Showalter at the other end of the court either, and his performance against Blackmon Jr. in that game proves it. He had 14 points on 5 of 8 shooting for the game, including a pair of makes from beyond the arc.

Showy was impressive in the season-ending win over Minnesota, putting up 12 points for his third-straight game in double figures. If he does that against Indiana it could spell the usual trouble for Tom Crean’s kids.

3 Numbers to Know:

— 12: That is the number of three-pointers Indiana made in its win over Iowa yesterday. Oh, and it also happens to be the number of made three pointers in the two games against Wisconsin in the regular season. James Blackmon Jr. was leading the way from deep, can he continue that against a Badgers defense that has been inconsistent at best on the perimeter?

— 2: That is Wisconsin’s seed in the Big Ten tournament. It has been a pretty darn good seed to the Badgers overall, as UW holds a 6-2 record and won the 2004 tournament title from the No. 2 seed position. All three of Wisconsin’s Big Ten tourney titles have come from the No. 1 or No. 2 seed.

— 62: Wisconsin has held Indiana to 62.0 points per game in the Tom Crean era. That stands in stark contrast to this season’s Hoosiers, who are putting up 80.4 points per game. However, it seems as if the trend is towards the 62 number as IU scored in the 60’s in both matchups in the regular season. UW’s ability to hold them down in the 60’s again today will be huge.

Prediction

Wisconsin 74, Indiana 62

A look at Indiana from last night and over the last three games could scare most in the country. Then Wisconsin realizes that Tom Crean is on the bench and all of that tension goes away.

For whatever reason, Wisconsin has had his number. Sure some of it is UW’s rise and Indiana’s overall struggles, but UW has dominated few Big Ten teams during that same span the way they have IU.

Betting against that happening is just stupid…and I’m not stupid. Look for the hot-hand of the Hoosiers to cool off, and the Badgers to take full advantage of finally getting a big win at the end of the regular season.

Happ works over Bryant down low and Koenig hits some clutch shots to end an early second-half run by the Hoosiers and secure a victory.

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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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