We’ve finally arrived at what is easily the best time of the college sports year — NCAA tournament time. For the Wisconsin Badgers this has become an annual tradition as well.
In fact, it has become an incredible run on a national scale. As in 15 straight years of NCAA tournament and bowl game appearances together, which is the longest streak in NCAA tournament history. UW will also be making its 19th straight NCAA tournament appearance, which is tied for the fifth-longest in history as well.
History aside, can the Badgers live up to the potential we all thought was there to start the season? That question begins to get answered on Thursday.
Let’s get to our staff picks!
Score: Wisconsin 68 Virginia Tech 63
Why: Virginia Tech has shown this season that they can get hot from three. In fact, they are a top ten 3-point shooting team in the country. Wisconsin, on the other hand, is one of the worst teams at defending the three-point line.
But despite that obvious cause for concern, Wisconsin has the edge at every position and category. They are much bigger, and will use that to gain a huge advantage on the glass. They have plenty of experience, and play much better defense.
The Hokies long balls will keep it close, but I’ll take the rebounding, experience, and defense of the Badgers any day in a one and done situation.
Score: Wisconsin 73, Virginia Tech 58
Why: Virginia Tech is a high scoring team that is dependent on their long-range shooting — Wisconsin has been unlucky as a three point defense this season — which is mostly a luck-based statistic. Virginia Tech has a huge disadvantage down low and will need Zach Leday, a 6-7 233 pound forward to contain Ethan Happ and stay out of foul trouble.
Va Tech has little depth behind LeDay, if Happ/Hayes can get him into foul trouble, which I suspect they will, this game will get out of hand in a hurry. I Expect Buzz Williams to double the post all game in an attempt to force the ball out of Happ’s hands, and the result will be mixed; some poor decisions but also some open three point attempts for Showalter, Koenig, Trice, and Brown.
Expect Wisconsin to play out of the post when doubled and get open looks. The first half should be competitive but you have to like Wisconsin’s chances of separating themselves in the second half. I predict LeDay picks up his fourth foul early on in the second half, and Wisconsin rolls from there. Va Tech will need a herculean offensive effort to put the pressure on the Badgers. I’ll take Wisconsin by a score of 73-58 when it is all said and done.
Score: Wisconsin 78, Virginia Tech 62
Why: Some will point out that Virginia Tech should know exactly what to expect, as its head coach is one Buzz Williams, the ex-head coach at Marquette. There is a little validity to that claim, as Williams was around for just one of the transformative seasons, the 2013-14 season. However, this is a very different team with a very different skill set even from that team.
Personally, I can’t get over Wisconsin’s massive size advantage and the fact that Ethan Happ is practically begging to be the hero here. Lately that has been a good thing on the scoreboard, as Happ put up an average of 14.7 points per game.
The other area people are pointing to is three-point shooting and Va Tech’s advantage there. Yes, it is true the Badgers shot a poor 35.7 percent from beyond the arc this season and is one of the worst against the three-point shot on defense. However, lately UW has been able to match what opponents are doing beyond the arc. Over the last four games, the Badgers have shot a dangerous 45.6 percent from three-point range and made an average of 9.5 three-pointers. That kind of production can offset anything Va Tech does beyond the arc.
All of that is well and good, but I firmly believe the Badgers get the job done defensively first and that has usually led to really good things happening on offense too. UW wins this one going away.
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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