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Wisconsin Badgers Basketball Preview: Ohio State edition 2.0

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The Basics:

Where: Columbus, OH; Value City Arena (18,809)
When: Thursday, Feb. 23; 8p.m. CT
Channel: ESPN (Rece Davis and Dan Dakich)
Spread: Wisconsin -4.5
All-Time Series: Ohio State leads 86-70
Last Meeting: UW won, 79-68, on Jan. 12, 2017 (in Madison, Wis.)

Wisconsin heads on the road for what most seasons would be an absolutely brutal trip. However, a two-game road trip against Ohio State and Michigan State doesn’t have the same ring to it this season.

Still, Wisconsin can’t take any game lightly this season. The Big Ten has been insane, and Purdue’s narrow escape at Penn State earlier this week should be a good reminder to not take anything lightly.

UW must also put a 23-point win over the Buckeyes at the Kohl Center in the way back of the mind. It was easily Wisconsin’s most complete game of the season, but it was also the Buckeyes’ worst performance of the year.

Can the Badgers build off the huge second half surge against Maryland on Sunday and hit their stride heading in to postseason play? Winning this game is the first step towards believing things are changing for the better with this Badgers team.

Projected Starting Lineups

Ohio State Buckeyes

G Kam Williams — Jr. 6-2, 185 (10.0 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 1.0 apg)
G CJ Jackson — So. 6-1, 175 (4.6 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.8 apg)
F Jae’Sean Tate — Jr. 6-4, 230 (14.0 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.9 apg)
F Marc Loving — Sr. 6-8, 220 (12.6 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.9 apg)
C Trevor Thompson — Jr. 7-0, 250 (10.7 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 0.4 apg)

No. 16 Wisconsin Badgers (21-5, 10-3)

G Bronson Koenig — Sr. 6-3, 190 (13.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.1 apg)
G Zak Showalter — Sr. 6-3, 185 (8.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.8 apg)
F Nigel Hayes Sr. 6-8, 240 (13.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.8 apg)
F Vitto Brown Sr. 6-8, 235 (7.1 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.0 apg)
C Ethan Happ — So. 6-10, 280 (14.7 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 2.9 apg)

Matchup to Watch: Ethan Happ vs. Trevor Thompson

For those who don’t remember the first meeting between these teams, it was way back when the Badger were firing on all cylinders. As in they dominated the boards, had a 20-point advantage in points in the paint and did it all without Ethan Happ’s best day.

Fast forward to today’s Wisconsin Badgers team and I’m not so sure they can win a game that Happ doesn’t perform well in. The second half comeback against Maryland was all driven by Happ’s ability to get hot and allow others like Nigel Hayes the freedom to be a dominate player as well.

Trevor Thompson was a key factor in getting in to Happ’s head in the previous matchup, putting in 11 points and grabbing nine rebounds. Wisconsin can’t rely on a repeat of its best offensive performance of the season.

Winning this individual battle on the night would be very helpful to Wisconsin’s chances on the road.

3 Numbers to Know

— .583: That is Wisconsin’s win percentage against Thad Matta-coached teams at OSU. UW is 14-10 all-time against Matta’s Buckeyes, which is actually the best record of any team in the Big Ten against OSU since Matta arrived in Columbus. The next closest is Michigan State at 15-2.

— 70: Wisconsin has held OSU to 70 points or less in 21 of 24 matchups in the Thad Matta era. It actually is way better than that, with the Badgers holding the Buckeyes to an average of 60.3 points per game in that 24-game span. UW has held opponents to 60.5 points per game on this season and help OSU to a season-low 66 points earlier this season at the Kohl Center.

— 0-6: That is Ohio State’s record against ranked opponents this season. It just so happens that the Badgers are one of those six losses so far this season. Those six losses have come by an average of just nine points per game. Only Wisconsin’s 23-point win and UCLA’s 13-point win were over double digit defeats for the Buckeyes.

 

Prediction

Wisconsin 74, Ohio State 62

This has been one of the worst seasons in recent Ohio State Buckeyes basketball history. Conversely, it has been one of the best starts in UW basketball history. That’s not good news for the Buckeyes if you ask me.

Sure, they may want revenge for the most lop-sided loss of the year, but that only goes so far in motivating a team to be up for a game. It is hard to see the Badgers letting up enough defensively to not stay in this game regardless of what happens on the offensive side of the ball.

Look for a much healthier Bronson Koenig to get going and for Ethan Happ to show up offensively unlike the first matchup. It all adds up to a Wisconsin team that keeps pace with Purdue at the top of the conference standings.

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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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