The Kohl Center magic was back this past Saturday, as the Badgers knocked off undefeated and No. 2 ranked Michigan at home. But, that was nearly a week ago and UW faces a very different kind of test in the Illinois Fighting Illini.
In fact, one could say it is going from the top of the league to the bottom as Illinois trails only Penn State at the very bottom of the current Big Ten standings.
After the big win, can Wisconsin (12-6, 4-3 B1G) get on a winning streak or will Illinois (5-13, 1-6 B1G) find a way to live up to individual talent as a team?
Let’s find out more about this game in our 5 Things to Know.
5: Wisconsin has played the 5th most difficult schedule in the country
Yes, according to ESPN’s Basketball Power Index (BPI), the Badgers schedule is the 5th most difficult in the country. Seeing Iowa, Maryland, Michigan and Purdue already in the Big Ten has been helpful, but so has been the performance of non-conference opponents like Marquette, Virginia, Western Kentucky and Xavier.
Wisconsin is one of just four teams in the country with 5 wins against Quadrant 1 teams in the new NET rankings system. UW has played nine of those Quadrant 1 games, with only Penn State’s 10 beating them in the Big Ten.
Can that strength of schedule and clear set of tough tests help in a potential scrappy battle with Illinois?
4: The Badgers have won 4 of last 5 Big Ten road games
As much as everyone wants to celebrate what the Badgers have done at the Kohl Center, the real secret to success has been their ability to win steadily on the road as well.
That shows, as even a program that declined last season and sputtered earlier this month was gathering road wins. UW has now won 4 of its last 5 road games in conference, with its lone road loss to Maryland. Wins have come against Iowa and Penn State already this season and the other three wins coming at Northwestern and Illinois last season.
Wisconsin has also owned the Illini as of late, winning the last 13 games overall and six straight in Champaign. Will the confidence from Saturday’s win and the fact that UW seems to have the Illini’s number matter on Wednesday night?
3: It’ll be the 30th anniversary celebration of the 1989 Fighting Illini Final Four team
If ever there’s a time for a downward trend to stop, it is when a magical season is remembered. Illinois will see that happen on Wednesday night with a reunion of the 30th anniversary of the 1989 Illini Final Four team.
It’ll also be Lowell Hamilton bobblehead night as the Illini continue to honor the starters from that team.
2: Happ is second in the nation in double doubles
Wisconsin’s star senior forward hasn’t disappointed much in 2018-19, as he has racked up 12 double doubles on the year. That number is second in the country going in to tonight’s game.
Just how good has Happ been in all points of the game? He ranks in the top three in points, rebounds and assists and with three more points will become just the 6th player in Big Ten history to amass 1,900 points and 1,000 rebounds in a career.
The last player to do that? Indiana’s Alan Henderson all the way back in 1995.
1: This is the lone home game in a 4-game stretch for the Illini
Another reason to potentially be ware of this matchup? The Fighting Illini are playing the lone game at home in a four-game stretch that started with a loss to Iowa in Iowa City on Sunday.
Following this game, Illinois will also have to face Maryland (at MSG as part of the Big Ten’s Super Saturday) and then a trip to Minnesota to follow.
Nothing has come easy for the Illini so far, but getting a win at home against an upper-division Big Ten opponent could be the catalyst for bigger things.
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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