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Badgers suffer worst loss to Marquette in Kohl Center era

Wisconsin suffers worst lost to Marquette since 1982, and many troubling trends are continuing for Badgers

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Marquette has owned the Badgers as of late, winning two of the last three meetings at the Kohl Center alone heading in to Saturday’s rivalry matchup. A less than full-strength Badgers team going against a red-hot MU team didn’t look good on paper heading in to the game.

It was even worse than expected as the game went along though, with Marquette blowing out the Badgers 82-63 at the Kohl Center and extending the streak to three of the last four in Madison.

With both D’Mitrick Trice (right foot surgery) and Kobe King (a knee injury suffered in practice on Friday) announced as out indefinitely on Saturday morning, the prospects for beating the visitors from Milwaukee were low to begin with. But, the Badgers just couldn’t keep up with the sharp-shooting perimeter game of Marquette.

The Eagles shot 14-22 from beyond the arc, with Andrew Rowsey leading the charge. The junior scored a game-high 24 points and was 5-6 from beyond the arc. Wisconsin countered by only hitting 4 of 12 three-point attempts on the game.

Even when Brevin Pritzl got hot and led the Badgers to within six points twice early in the second half, it didn’t matter. Marquette had quick answers and would stretch the lead right back to double digits.

Rowsey was joined in the 20-point club by fellow guard Markus Howard (23) and Sam Hauser also contributed 16 points in the winning effort.

Wisconsin was led by Brad Davison’s 20 points, 11 of which came at the free throw line. Ethan Happ had 17 points and 9 rebounds, while Pritzl was able to chip in 10 points in his return to the starting lineup.

The problem is that was all the Badgers had on offense and they played some of the worst defense we’ve seen from a Badgers team in decades. In fact, the win was Marquette’s largest over the Badgers since the 1982-83 season.

It was certainly a showpiece for the visitors and a loud statement of where these programs currently stand.

 

Will Anyone Follow Davison’s Lead?

No one can say Brad Davison is not a leader for this Badgers team. He led UW is scoring on Saturday, but his effort was also exceptional. With both Trice and King out, Davison was forced to basically play every minute of this game and it was an all-out effort from the freshman. He added three rebounds, four assists and a steal to the 20-point effort on the offensive end of the court and could be seen hustling after balls even when he had nothing left to give.

The problem was, few others came along for the ride. Happ wasn’t scoring when Davison needed the help, fellow freshman Nathan Reuvers struggled through a 2 of 8 day from the floor and Aleem Ford and Kahlil Iverson combined for just eight points.

Davison is doing a rare thing and stepping up as a leader in his first season. Will anyone follow his lead is the big question? The answer so far this season seems to be no one wants to also step up along side of him in the backcourt and that’s troubling.

Where is the 2015 Class?

When you have a 5-man class in college basketball, you better hit on that class. One look at the Badgers roster this season shows a severe deficit from that class.

Sure, it was nice to get 10 points from Pritzl, but Iverson hasn’t been a consistent scorer to compliment anything up front. That’s not to make any mention of the fact that both Aaron Moesch and TJ Schlundt are getting playing time over Charlie Thomas and Alex Illikanen. Need we make mention of the fact that Illikanen came in to Madison as a 4-star recruit alongside Pritzl?

There was supposed to be stretch-four in the mix as well with Andy Van Vliet. He’s still on the roster, but he was the first one out of the starting lineup as he struggled shooting from distance and keeping up on the defensive end of the court. It’s been an utter disaster from this group.

With a young group of players having to step up, now would’ve been the perfect time for the guys in their third year in the program to step up. Instead, that group is largely shrinking under the weight of this season. Minutes are there to be had for anyone willing to step up, yet this group isn’t doing that.

If you want to know why the Badgers are 4-7 this season, look to a lack of anything from a class that should be the backbone of a team steadying itself and at least playing good basketball. We certainly can’t say that after the start this team has had and the run of awful basketball that has been played in December so far.

Gard Has Chance to Show His Chops as a Head Coach

Tough times make the man, and the Badgers are hitting some of the toughest times they’ve seen since the Kohl Center opened back in 1998. Wisconsin has no home court advantage anymore, as Ohio State and Marquette have come to the Kohl Center and just destroyed the Badgers — something that was a rarity for more than a decade or so.

It isn’t good news for a program that is supposed to have its share of high-valued recruits on the roster. There are five players on the Badgers roster that were part of the 247Sports’ Top 247 in their respective classes. One can say only Brad Davison and Nathan Reuvers – both freshmen – are even close to showing the potential that their recruiting rankings showed.

That’s a major problem, one that requires quality coaching to overcome. Now is a good time for Gard and his staff to show their coaching chops.

But, so far that has been a questionable situation in 2017. There was the inability to see Davison needed to start from the beginning, the reliance on the likes of Thomas and Illikanen up top early on and now the desperation of taking the redshirt off of Reuvers (even though that was the right move).

Those haven’t been good decisions made.

Wisconsin also has a major problem this season — no one is developing.

This is supposed to be a program built on developing players while others are starring. Where has that been this past year? It sure appears non-existent from what we’ve highlighted before.

Right now the fanbase is searching for answers, and so too is Gard. Sure, he may say there wasn’t any time to prep a rotation for tonight with the losses of King and Trice, but that’s a flimsy excuse for getting blown out. It only works if you are losing a close game, and Wisconsin has done plenty of that before the month of December.

Gard hasn’t found an answer and he really needs to quickly in order for the Badgers to avoid missing out on the NCAA tournament for the first time in nearly 20 years. If he can right the ship, get something resembling quality consistent play, perhaps the season is salvageable. If not, you can bet the questions about Gard as the right man for the job are going to grow from a Twitter minority to a majority in the fanbase.

Such is the nature of what Dick Bennett and then Bo Ryan built in Madison.

There’s little excuse for the talent that was brought in to this program to be executing in such poor fashion. It’s time for Gard to pull out some real coaching magic. Does he have it in him?

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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Badgers Basketball

Full Badgers 2018-19 basketball schedule revealed

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The moment every Wisconsin Badgers basketball fan was waiting for finally arrived on Tuesday afternoon. In a special on BTN, all schedules were released for conference games. 

For the first time ever there will be 20 conference games played, with the Badgers kicking off the B1G schedule on November 30 by taking a trip to Iowa City to face the Iowa Hawkeyes. 

Wisconsin will play a second Big Ten game that week, hosting Rutgers on Dec. 3. 

The overall schedule kicks off with the Badgers hosting Coppin State on Nov. 6 at the Kohl Center. 

Highlighting UW’s non-conference schedule are matchups against fellow Power 5 opponents like NC State, Xavier and Stanford (part of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament). Those were all matchups already known though. 

In between the Xavier matchup and UW’s trip to the Bahamas is a visit from Houston Baptist on Nov. 17. 

With the release of the schedule, UW will also see its annual rivalry with Marquette (Dec. 8) renewed.

As of now, there is one open date on the Badgers schedule for Dec. 13th and there has yet to be either Green Bay or Milwaukee on the schedule this season. 

It would be the first time in a very long time that neither of the other two in-state schools meet the Badgers in a regular season matchup. 

The non-conference slate will end on Dec. 29 with Western Kentucky coming to Madison.

Once the usual non-conference slate is finished, the Badgers have a pretty even ride through Big Ten play in January. 

There are challenging sections to the schedule, including a three-game swing in mid-January that will see UW play host to Purdue, travel to Maryland and then return home to play Michigan. 

However, February heats up with the Badgers having to face Maryland, Minnesota, Michigan, Michigan State, Indiana and Ohio State amongst the final 10 games of the conference slate. 

The season will wrap up with UW taking on Ohio State in Columbus on March 10. 

Here’s a look at the full schedule for the Badgers:

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Badgers Basketball

Badgers land 2019 4-star SF Tyler Wahl

Badgers get 1st player in to the 2019 class and it’s a 4-star forward from Minnesota…sound familiar?

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The long-awaited first commitment of the 2019 class for Wisconsin Badgers basketball has happened.

On Thursday, 4-star 6-7, 200-pound small forward Tyler Wahl announced his verbal pledge to the Badgers.

The Lakeville (Minn.) North star visited UW unofficially on Thursday, following attendance at camps over the past week as well. Following that visit, Wahl decided it was time to wrap up his recruitment.

Wisconsin won out over offers from the likes of Butler, Iowa State, Minnesota and Northwestern and is getting the No. 125 ranked player in the country and No. 25 ranked power forward according to the 247Sports rankings.

It probably didn’t hurt UW in his recruitment to see what former high school teammate Nathan Reuvers did in his first season as a Badger. After playing sparingly early on, Reuvers became an important cog in the Badgers machine this past season.

According to Badger247, Reuvers had some advice for his former teammate if he wanted to be a Badger.

“Our relationship is really good,” said Wahl. “I talk to him at least once a week. He’s told me that they really like me. I just had to get my shot down and keep playing well.”

This past season, Wahl averaged 17.2 points, 12.8 rebounds, and 5.6 assists per game for his high school team. Lakeville North also went 22-4 and made the Minnesota state tournament.

What should be interesting is how Wahl’s decision impacts one of UW’s oldest targets in the 2019 recruiting class — Zeke Nnaji. The Badgers have been on Nnaji from the beginning, but the fellow 4-star recruit has seen his offer list blow up in the past few months.

The two are AAU teammates, and while that can be a factor, it may not be the deciding factor in Nnaji’s choice of schools in the coming months.

As for Wahl, he’s seen his shot come a long way and has shown some good defensive work during his recruitment. He screams classic Badgers forward, willing to do the little things on defense to help make the offensive side of the ball that much easier.

UW ranks No. 22 in the country with Wahl’s commitment and could reach even higher depending on what happens with Nnaji’s recruitment and the scholarships they decide to use or bank towards 2020.

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Badgers Basketball

DJ Carton surprises most, leaves Badgers off his final 6

Badgers were 1st to offer for 4-star PG, but were stunningly left off his final 6 list. Where do the Badgers go from here?

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The Wisconsin Badgers saw what no team in college basketball did in point guard D.J. Carton back in 2017. They were the first to offer the budding recruit and were after him hard, but in the end it didn’t apparently matter.

On Friday, Carton announced his list of final six schools via his Twitter account:

Missing from that list were the Badgers, a move that surprised many. Instead, it was Indiana, Iowa, Marquette, Michigan, Ohio State and Xavier that made the cut.

It wasn’t for a lack of effort on the Badgers part to say the least. Wisconsin put the full-court press on him early and often, sending Greg Gard and others to just about every AAU game and got an in-home visit with him in recent months.

So, why didn’t the first high-major team to offer make the list?

It could have had something to do with UW taking 2018 point guard Tai Strickland and thus having a pretty loaded backcourt for the foreseeable future. Strickland was added to the mix late in the 2018 recruiting process due to his skill set, but also because there was clearly a lack of depth in the Badgers backcourt.

That’s not to say Carton wouldn’t have been in the mix, but as a 4-star player he also was going to get opportunities to not have to compete so hard for immediate playing time.

Not seeing Carton in the top six is a bit stunning, given what UW has put in to his recruitment from the get-go. But, unlike years past, the Badgers are not a team stuck without options. The signing of Strickland helped them avoid a crushing blow like going all-in on Carton and not actually landing him at all.

UW also has been heavily looking towards the 2020 class, where there are a number of quality backcourt options out there. One name that UW has been heavily linked with in that class is point guard Reece Beekman out of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. His grandparents went to Wisconsin and he is a big-time academic person along with a quality point guard in his class.

So, while it may sting to see a guy that UW put so much effort in to not include them in the final mix, this isn’t a situation like missing out on Diamond Stone or Kevon Looney — guys that the Badgers were heavily all-in on and ultimately had to scramble to replace.

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Badgers Basketball

Nigel Hayes pushes for boycott for pay while revealing Badgers nearly did it in 2016

Hayes hopes to spark major change in college athlete pay, while also pushing for a boycott that nearly happened at UW in 2016.

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Nigel Hayes has been an outspoken advocate for the movement to get players in the NCAA to get paid. He’s even still named as a plaintiff in an ongoing lawsuit against the NCAA.

On Tuesday, Hayes, who is currently playing for the Sacramento Kings, was part of a panel titled “Future of College Sports: Reimagining Athlete Pay.” It was a panel to help facilitate a discussion around athlete’s pay in college sports.

But, it wasn’t what Hayes had to say around that part of the topic that caught the eye of many. Instead, it was what he revealed about the 2016-17 Wisconsin Badgers that made people take notice. Hayes revealed that he spearheaded a potential move to boycott a high-profile game early in the season.

That game was the matchup with a then-ranked Syracuse Orange team as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

According to Hayes, the idea was proposed by him in a group chat and that the majority of the team was in favor of the bold move. However, Hayes indicated that everyone had to be on board for such a move to happen.

“I knew 90 percent of the guys were on board from the get-go, before I asked the question,” Hayes told USA TODAY Sports after the panel discussion. “But I let them know that if one of you guys says no, we won’t do it because, obviously, we’re a team and we’re going to stick together.

Obviously that didn’t happen and the Badgers went on to win the game 77-60 in front of a packed home crowd at the Kohl Center.

It certainly would’ve been a huge headline-grabber, and Hayes believes that hindsight for those teammates who voted no would change their minds.

“In hindsight, I think those guys that said no would change their mind now. That’s usually what happens. The guys who don’t go on to the NBA, once they leave college, they look back and say, ‘Wow, I was exploited — and now I have nothing to show for it.’ … So, I think we missed our opportunity, but hopefully this word gets out and it will inspire a group of kids that in college now or will be in college.”

Is that really what those former teammates believe, or is Hayes just speaking for them in a way that helps his cause? What we don’t and likely will never know is just how many of his teammates really were against the move and just what those players believe about their college experiences.

Clearly that is a call by Hayes for someone to take up the cause he championed time and again while he was in college. Will someone do it and will it spark the change that Haye believes in?

“With all the money that’s being made that the players are not receiving, there’s going to be a point where the players don’t play,” he said. “It’s going to take the right player or the right team in the right big-game setting … but if you want to get something done, boycott it. That’s the best way to get anything done. … I think it’s something that if we did go through with it, we’d probably be having a very different conversation right now.”

Those are bold statements and there certainly are huge risks involved. College athletics is clearly at a cross-roads and what happens in the next few years may go a long way towards determining its future. Part of that future appears in the hands of the NBA and what it does with expanding the G-League opportunities to younger players and what it does with the path to the draft as well.

What Hayes revealed in this interview is that he clearly has an agenda and isn’t afraid to push people in today’s college game to do what he advocates for.

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