Wisconsin got a much-needed road win, topping Penn State on Monday night. Can the Badgers keep the momentum going in the state of Pennsylvania?
Standing in their way is a game Temple squad, who come in 4-2 and have had a pretty light schedule in terms of volume. However, don’t sleep on this Owls team, because they already own wins over both Auburn, Clemson and South Carolina on the young season. On the flip side, Temple’s losses have come to LaSalle and George Washington.
Point being, Temple is clearly a team with ebbs and flows to its own game.
Will Wisconsin come out on top in Philly or will a young team’s education continue?
Let’s look inside this matchup, which you can see at 6pm CT on ESPNU
Wisconsin has lost just one time to Temple in Philadelphia
The City of Brotherly Love has been very loving to the Badgers over the course of history. Wisconsin owns a 4-1 record in games played in Philly between these two teams. In fact, Wisconsin comes in to this game with a four-game win streak in the series to date. The last meeting was an 80-67 win at the Liacouras Center in 2003.
Can Reuvers Back Up His Play Against Penn State?
Wisconsin has needed some offensive help for star forward Ethan Happ, and it was hard to come by early in the season. However, head coach Greg Gard took the redshirt off of Nathan Reuvers and it has proven to be a good decision so far. After failing to score in his first two outings in a Badgers uniform, Reuvers has hit double figures on the score sheet in the past two games. That includes a career high 11 points in a really tough spot against Penn State on Monday. Getting quality minutes because of need is one thing, but Reuvers is proving he can hold his own on the scoring front. Will that continue against Temple?
Will Rose Be a Thorn in Wisconsin’s Side?
No, we aren’t talking about Derrick Rose, but Temple has one of the American Athletic Conference’s best scoring threats in shooting guard Quinton Rose. He’s averaging 19.0 points per game in the six games played to date and is fourth in the AAC in scoring average. Wisconsin has struggled to guard the perimeter, especially with Brad Davison’s limitations due to his shoulder issue. The Badgers have to find a way to slow Rose down, who is coming off of games of 24 and 20 points against South Carolina and George Washington. Given UW’s streaky offense, it can’t afford to have Rose going off and playing catch up.
Perfection is on the Line
While things haven’t been easy for the Badgers in this non-conference slate, the Badgers are a perfect team on the road against unranked non-conference opponents under Gard. UW is 14-0 against those foes and an impressive 22-20 overall on the road in non-conference settings over the last 15 seasons. That’s hard to do in college basketball. Can UW keep Gard’s winning streak on the road against unranked opponents alive tonight?It won’t be easy, as Temple will be jacked up to play its first game of the season at home. Yes, all six of the Owls games to date have been away from their home court.
Twin Towers Could Hurt the Badgers
Ethan Happ has virtually had his way with opponents down low this season. It wasn’t that way when an equal like Mike Watkins showed up for Penn State last time out. Happ struggled with foul trouble and with Watkins’ length. Temple provides a difficult challenge to Happ because they will trot out two 6-10 forwards (Obi Enechionyia and Ernest Aflakpui) to combat his moves down low. It also hurts, because the Badgers don’t have a ton of length outside of Happ in the starting lineup. Iverson is a stretch player, while Aleem Ford is clearly a three. How the Badgers counter the two 6-10 starters. Enechionyia is no joke either on the offensive end of the floor, averaging a healthy 14.3 points per game himself.
Badgers dropped by Ducks for 1st time in NCAA tourney
The Wisconsin Badgers return to the NCAA tournament was not a happy one, as they got dumped 72-54 by the No. 12 seed Oregon Ducks on Friday afternoon.
The loss ends the Badgers season earlier than they have seen since an eerily familiar loss to Ole Miss in the first round of the 2013 tournament.
After 20 minutes it was all-square at 25-25, but then the second half happened and Oregon pulled away with 47 points to their name and some quality work on the defensive end of the court.
Oregon freshman guard Payton Pritchard led much of that second half outburst and he ended up with 19 points in the win. The Ducks also got double digit scoring from Louis King (17) and Paul White (14).
Wisconsin was led senior duo Ethan Happ and Khalil Iverson, who each had 12 points. No other Badgers player reached double figures.
The game remained close for the first 30 minutes, but that’s where the two teams diverged. Oregon began to be more consistent on offense and suffocated the Badgers on the other end of the court.
UW was doomed largely by an inability to hit from the perimeter, going just 6-of-30 from beyond the arc in the game and shooting just 33.3 percent from the field.
Ironically, Wisconsin cut the Ducks lead to just five points at 50-45 with 7:27 left to play thanks to a D’Mitrick Trice triple.
But, the Badgers went on a nearly three-minute scoring drought late in the game and allowed Oregon to control the game. By the time Happ stopped the bleeding, the Ducks led 59-49 with 3:56 to play.
Wisconsin would make two buckets the rest of the way — both in the final minute when the game was well out of reach.
5 things to know about Badgers vs. Oregon in NCAA tournament
When the Wisconsin Badgers saw their name back up in the NCAA tournament bracket after a one-year absence there was much joy.
However, for the fan base there was also much groaning thanks to yet another matchup with the Oregon Ducks in the NCAA tournament. It’s also a team that most fans will know as a dangerous one, even if they are a No. 12 seed.
Oregon is arguably the hottest team in tournament, riding an eight-game win streak. They’ve outscored opponents 72.0 to 54.2 points per game and holding opponents to 34.6 percent shooting from the field and 23.1 percent from beyond the arc.
All of that tells us just how serious the Badgers have to take this matchup with the Pac-12 champions.
So, ahead of Friday’s matchup with the Ducks at 3:30pm CT, let’s look at the 5 things we need to know about this matchup.
5: Wisconsin has allowed just 5 teams to score 70-plus points in a game this season
There’s a reason why the Badgers are ranked 3rd in the country in Adjusted Defense by KenPom.com and thats’ because they don’t let teams score points in droves.
To that point, the Badgers have allowed opponents to score 70 or more points against them in just 5 of 33 games played so far this season.
Furthermore, just two teams this season have scored 80 points or more, with losses in both of those games (84-80 OT to Purdue & 83-76 to Western Kentucky). So, keeping the Ducks offense from getting going is going to be vital.
4: Wisconsin has reached the Sweet 16 in 4 of last 5 seasons
Birth, death, taxes…and the Wisconsin Badgers making the Sweet 16? It’s been almost automatic as of late for UW, who have made it to the second weekend of the tournament in 4 of the last 5 seasons.
The Badgers have also done it in 6 of the last 8 years.
Impressive, right? But did you know that no other team in the country has matched or topped that number? It’s true…it’s damn true.
Additionally, Oregon’s resurgence has come largely thanks to a switch to a “big” lineup with 4 players 6-9 or taller in the starting lineup.
3: Both teams have 3 starters averaging double figures
Both Wisconsin and Oregon will feature three starters each that are averaging double figures this season. Leading all six of those players is Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ (17.5). He’s joined by Brad Davison and D’Mitrick Trice — both of whom are averaging 10.7 points per game.
Oregon is led by freshman guard Louis King (13.1) and is joined by fellow guard Payton Pritchard (12.7) and forward Paul White (10.6).
What this game could come down to is how the rest of the group shows up. UW has been able to count on another big man in Nate Reuvers plenty throughout the season and Khalil Iverson has been a huge presence as of late. Will that continue after nearly a week off?
2: Pritchard scored 20 or more points twice in the Pac-12 tournament
If you need a reason for why the Oregon Ducks are even in the tournament, look no further than the hot hand of Payton Pritchard. In three games in the Pac-12 tournament, Pritchard put up 20 points twice and in the third game he hit for 18 points.
That’s an average of 19.3 points per game and a scary matchup for the Badgers efficient defense to have to deal with.
On the flip side of that hot hand, it does seem as if 20 points is his ceiling on the scoring front. Pritchard has managed to score more than 20 points just once this season, and that happened in the season opener against Portland State in which he put up 22 points in a large win.
1: Ethan Happ is the No. 1 player in the KenPom.com player ratings
In an age of stretch forwards and 7-footers with jump shots galore, Happ is a throwback player who rarely shoots from outside of three feet. But, that hasn’t stopped him from being one of the most dominant players in the country. So much so that Ken Pomeroy has him ranked as the No. 1 player in the country.
Not only is Happ averaging 17.5 points, but he is also averaging 10.1 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game. Should he finish the season averaging 16 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists per game, he would be just the second player in 20 years to accomplish that.
Oh, and Happ is 1 of 6 players in NCAA history to record 2,000 points, 1,000 boards and 400 assists, joining Oscar Robertson, Larry Bird, Danny Ferry, Stacey Augmon and John Konchar.
Enjoy his final games in a Badgers uniform.
Badgers get Oregon again in NCAA tournament
After bowing out in the Big Ten tournament semi-final on Saturday afternoon, everyone was waiting to find out where the Wisconsin Badgers would be heading in the NCAA tournament.
It didn’t take long to get that answer, as the Badgers were given a No. 5 seed in the South region, which was the second region to be revealed in the selection show.
Their opponent? Oregon. AGAIN.
The destination? Go West young man.
Wisconsin will meet the Ducks in San Jose, Calif. on Friday and the winner will get the winner of Kansas State vs. UC-Irvine in the next round on Sunday.
This will be the third matchup between the two teams in the last five years of the NCAA tournament.
Wisconsin has won both previous matchups between these two teams, topping the Ducks 85-77 in a second round matchup. UW would do it all over again the next year, besting the Ducks 72-65 in another second round matchup.
Wisconsin is in the top half of the South region bracket and that could set up another very familiar matchup, as the Virginia Cavaliers are the No. 1 seed in the region.
5 Things to know about Badgers vs. Nebraska in Big Ten tournament
The season of redemption has reached the postseason and unlike last year, the Wisconsin Badgers of this season are firmly in the NCAA tournament. There’s no need to win the Big Ten title to get to the dance.
Of course, that doesn’t mean the Badgers won’t want to showcase themselves by winning the whole tournament either.
Wisconsin will step on to the United Center court for the first time in the Big Ten tournament on Friday afternoon. Across from them will be a red-hot Nebraska Cornhuskers team, who have won twice — including an upset of No. 5 seed Maryland — to get here.
So, what do we need to know about this matchup and the Badgers in the Big Ten tourney in general? Let’s get it going.
5: Nebraska and the 55-point mark are vital to this game
Wisconsin is one of the best defensive teams in the country this year, ranking 4th in defensive efficiency according to KenPom.com. That doesn’t bode well for the Nebraska Cornhuskers though, because they’ve only managed to top 55 points in 7 of the 13 previous matchups since joining the Big Ten.
All four of the Badgers losses to Nebraska since they joined the league have come with Nebraska scoring more than 55 points (58 being their lowest in a win over UW). The Huskers are averaging a meager 57.9 points per game against UW overall since joining the B1G.
The Badgers have also held Nebraska to 55 points or less in four of the nine wins in the series since becoming league foes.
4: The Badgers are the No. 4 seed in the Big Ten tournament
Let’s just say this program is coming back home when it comes to postseason play, shall we? After all, the Badgers have been amongst the top 4 seeds in the conference tournament in 16 of the last 18 years.
By earning those seeds, one would think the Badgers have a history of success in the tournament or something? Is that true? Let’s find out together.
3: Wisconsin has won 3 Big Ten tournament titles.
That may not seem like a lot, but for those of us who are in our 30’s and can still remember the days without a Big Ten postseason tournament that number is a lot. UW won tournament titles in 2004, 2008 and 2015. So, math tells us they are likely due for another banner to be risen in to the rafters at the Kohl Center.
Wisconsin has not been a slouch in the tournament overall either, having played seven more times in the title game and owning a .571 record in the history of the tourney.
2: Happ’s continued run at history
We all know that Ethan Happ is historically good. But, did you know that Happ is on pace to be just the 2nd player in the last 20 years in all of D1 basketball to average 16 ppg, 10 rpg & 4 apg.
Right now, Happ is averaging 17.8 points, 10.4 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game — so he’s well on his way to achieving that mark.
As for the matchup with Nebraska, Happ is averaging 14.2 ppg, 9.2 rpg and 2.6 apg in five games against them. If he’s going to stay on track for his record-breaking season and career, he’ll likely have to duplicate if not exceed most of those numbers.
1: The Badgers own the Big Ten’s best March winning percentage in last 6 seasons
Winning titles only happens by winning games and the Badgers have a very long history of doing that in March. So much so that its 29-9 (7.63) mark is the best amongst all Big Ten teams during games played in the month of March.
When you say Wisconsin in March, you said it all.
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