When: Sunday, March 5; 5pm CT
Where: Madison, Wis.; Kohl Center (17,287)
Spread: Wisconsin -6.5
All-Time Series: Minnesota leads 96-94 *vacated games excluded
Last Meeting: UW won, 78-76 (ot), on Jan. 21, 2017 (in Minneapolis, Minn.)
Senior Day is upon the University of Wisconsin, and it is a group that has done a whole lot of winning throughout their careers. However, UW comes in to this game needing a win in the worst possible way.
Iowa came in to the Kohl Center and got a victory on Thursday. It was a loss that eliminated Wisconsin from Big Ten regular season title contention, and the fifth loss in the last six games for the Badgers. Clearly something isn’t going right internally for this team, as Gard has thrown in the kitchen sink lately looking to get UW back on track.
No one seems to want to seize the opportunity given to players off the bench or as starters though. Instead, UW has found new and frustrating ways to drop games.
Meanwhile, Minnesota comes in to the game riding an eight-game win streak and playing some of the best basketball in the Big Ten right now. The Gophers have scored under 70 points just once in the win streak and are averaging 82.1 points per game as well. However, this will be the Gophers’ first time back to the Kohl Center since a 63-53 Wisconsin win in 2015. UW has played the last three games on the road in this series, winning all three of them.
Wisconsin’s four senior starters are likely to be jacked up for this game, but can they play consistent enough basketball to win their final game at the Kohl Center?
Minnesota Gophers (23-7, 11-6)
G Nate Mason — Jr. 6-2, 190 (15.4 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 5.3 apg)
G Akeem Springs — Sr. 6-4, 220 (9.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.4 apg)
G Amir Coffey — Fr. 6-8, 195 (12.0 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 3.1 apg)
F Jordan Murphy — So. 6-6, 240 (11.3 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 0.8 apg)
C Reggie Lynch — Jr. 6-10, 260 (8.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 0.5 apg)
No. 22 Wisconsin Badgers (22-8, 11-6 B1G)
G Bronson Koenig — Sr. 6-3, 190 (14.1 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 1.9 apg)
G Zak Showalter — Sr. 6-3, 185 (8.0 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, 0.9 apg)
C Ethan Happ — So. 6-10, 280 (14.0 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 2.8 apg)
Matchup to Watch: Ethan Happ vs. Reggie Lynch
While plenty of attention will be paid to what the four senior starters will do for the Badgers in their last game at the Kohl Center, reality is it will come down to the only non-senior starter on the floor. Ethan Happ has struggled a ton as of late, averaging just 12.3 points per game in the last six games.
In fact, he’s scored in double figures in just three of the last seven games for the Badgers overall. He’ll be facing one of the tougher challengers up front in Reggie Lynch, who is one of the best rebounders in the conference as well. Can Happ regain the form that allowed him to poor in a then season high 28 points up in Minneapolis the last time these two teams met?
Jordan Murphy has had no issues with is production as of late, scoring in double figures in each of the last seven games for the Gophers. He is averaging 17.6 points per game during the last seven games as well.
Something is going to have to give up front between these two versatile big men. Can Happ finally get back on track and allow the Badgers to play through him consistently? If so, this could be UW getting back on track.
3 Numbers to Know:
— 6: That is Wisconsin’s current win streak over the Gophers. Richard Pitino hasn’t exactly had a lot fun coaching against the University of Wisconsin, owning a 1-6 overall record against the Badgers, with the lone win coming in the first meeting of the 2013-14 season. However, Wisconsin has won every matchup between these two teams since that matchup.
— 110: That is the number of wins for the senior class at Wisconsin. Currently this class sits third in the standings for most wins as a class, but a win against Minnesota would give them a tie for second at 111. The all-time mark is 115 for the 2013-16 class, meaning this group would have to rattle off six wins to tie that mark and would have to reach the Big Ten championship game along with the Elite 8 to get the top mark in school history.
— 5 of 6: That is the losing streak the Badgers are currently on. Ironically, the last time UW lost 5 of 6 games they went on to reach the Final Four back in 2014. However, that losing streak was followed up by Wisconsin ripping off eight wins in a row before dropping a game to Nebraska to end the season 12-6 in Big Ten play.
It is hard to see this Badgers team playing the way it needs to to win this type of matchup. Minnesota’s athleticism and length on the defensive end of the court is scary. The Gophers have forced an average of 12.2 turnovers per game.
Wisconsin hasn’t done well dealing with pressure from opposing defenses as of late, and that is exactly what Minnesota would love to do.
If Ethan Happ can get going early on offensively, perhaps this one goes to the Badgers. However, look for the red-hot Gophers, who have come in winning eight in a row to edge out the Badgers and ruin senior night.
Expect Wisconsin to go on a prolonged shooting drought in the first half, dig themselves a hole they can’t get out of despite finding the shooting touch in the second half. It has been this team’s m.o. for a long time, and expecting that to stop against a team like Minnesota isn’t a good bet.
Minnesota 74, Wisconsin 64
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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