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The Starting 5: Wisconsin vs. Penn State basketball preview

5 things to know and a prediction about Wisconsin’s upcoming basketball game against Penn State.

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On Monday night, the Wisconsin Basketball team will travel to the Bryce Jordan Center to take on the Penn State Nittany Lions. The Badgers are coming off an embarrassing 83-58 defeat at the hands of Ohio State in the Kohl Center. They currently sit at 3-5, while Penn State is 7-2 after a road win against Iowa. The game will start at 6 PM and air on ESPN2.

Penn State is favored to win this game

Yes, we currently live in a world when Penn State is favored to win a basketball game against Wisconsin. According to  BetOnline Sportsbook, the Badgers are 4.5-point underdogs. ESPN FPI gives the Badgers just a 29.1% chance to win the game. While it may seem crazy to think about, Penn State definitely deserves to be the favorite. They have been the much better team this season. In fact, at 7-2 with victories against Pittsburgh and at Iowa, the Nittany Lions have a chance to make a run to the NCAA Tournament. If the Badgers win this game, it is going to be a slight surprise.

Wisconsin needs a win

After losing to Ohio State, the Badgers fell to 3-5. All three of their wins came against teams outside of the Pomeroy Rankings Top-120. The Badgers still have a chance to make the tournament, but they are going to need quality wins. A road win against a very solid Penn State will go a long way in that regard.

But outside of helping build their resume, the Badgers really just need a win for confidence purposes. Until Saturday, the Badgers had four losses to good teams. UCLA, Baylor, Xavier, and Virginia all spent time in the Top-25 this season. Wisconsin was very much in the game against all of them except Virginia, which was on the road. They just came a little bit short. It was nothing to be ashamed of.

But on Saturday against Ohio State, they were abysmal. They left shooters wide open on defense, and the offensive execution was extremely poor. They got manhandled at home by a team that probably won’t even make the NCAA Tournament. It was embarrassing. Now the Badgers need come out and make a statement. This as must-win as a December basketball game gets.

Watch out for Tony Carr

Tony Carr is another in a long line of excellent Penn State guards. The sophomore point guard is averaging 20.6, 4.6 assists, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per game. He is doing it efficiently too. Carr is shooting 59% from three, 47% from the field, and 84% from the line. Quite frankly, he has been one of the best point guards in the country so far. The Badgers have had trouble with quick, shot-making guards this season. Carr can give them a lot of trouble.

Ethan Happ needs to bounce back

Blaming Happ for what has happened over the last few game is ridiculous. The burden put on him on offense is extremely high. He has limited help around him, and the opposing defense is always focused on him. It isn’t an enviable position to be in. But even so, he needs to be better than he has been over the last two games. Against Virginia, he missed multiple bunnies, struggled to pass out of double-teams, and didn’t rebound or defend as well as he usually does. The Ohio State game was even worse. He had just seven points on 2-6 shootings to go along with four turnovers. Happ has one of the most difficult jobs in the country. But he needs to get back to producing at an All-American level if Wisconsin is going to turn its season around.

Will Greg Gard make any changes?

I don’t know exactly what he can or should do to turn this season around, but he needs to try something. Khalil Iverson isn’t cutting it in the starting lineup. He has been turning the ball over at a high rate and still isn’t a threat to score from the perimeter. Inserting Kobe King or Nate Reuvers into the starting lineup may give this team the offensive boost it needs. Again, I don’t know if that is the answer. But it feels like Gard has to try something new, right?

Prediction: Wisconsin 61, Penn State 60

Maybe I’m just naive or hopelessly optimistic. I did pick the Badgers to beat Xavier, UCLA and Ohio State this season. But I think the Badgers are going to come out extremely motivated and energetic. The Badgers will completely lock down on defense. Ethan Happ is going to do what he did to Rutgers last season. All of that will be just enough for Wisconsin to edge out their first win against a major conference team this season.

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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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Badgers Basketball

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 Basketball

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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