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The Starting 5: Wisconsin vs. Virginia basketball preview

5 things to know about Wisconsin’s upcoming game against Virginia.

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After falling to 2-3 because of three straight losses to AP Top-25 opponents, the Wisconsin Basketball team rebounded with a win against in-state rival UW-Milwaukee. But now they have to face yet another really good opponent. As part of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, Wisconsin will play a road game against the always-tough Virginia Cavaliers. The game will tipoff at 8 pm on ESPN2. Here are five things you need to know about the game.

1. Ignore the polls: Virginia is really good

Virginia is currently unranked in the AP Poll. But that is absurd. It’s almost as absurd as Kirk Herbstreit leaving Wisconsin out of his playoff top-4 for this week. While they will likely crack the top-25 when the new poll comes out on Monday, they will still be too low. They have wins against Rhode Island, Vanderbilt, and at VCU. According to the Pomeroy College Basketball Rankings, they are the third best team in the country, behind only Duke and Wichita State. Vegas odds makers agree, as Wisconsin is currently 8.5-point underdogs. For comparison, the Badgers were favored by one-point against Xavier and UCLA, and were one-point underdogs to Baylor. Wisconsin has played tough teams. But it doesn’t compare to playing a team like Virginia on the road.

2. Expect a painfully slow pace

There are only a handful of teams in the country that play a slower pace than Wisconsin. Virginia is one of them. In fact, the Cavaliers have the slowest adjusted tempo in the entire country. This game is going to be extremely slow. The lack of possessions will make it very low scoring. College Basketball fans are going to make jokes about it. NBA fans are going to use as a way to prove that college basketball stinks. Jay Bilas is going to propose a billion different rule changes because of it. This game is going to be absolutely brutal, similar to Wisconsin’s 48-38 win a few years ago. And that was when the Badgers had one of their best offenses ever.

3. Virginia point-guard Kyle Guy is a stud

You probably haven’t heard much about him, but he is quietly putting together a very impressive season. He is Virginia’s go-to scorer, averaging 15.8 points per game on 47% shooting from the field and 48% shooting from three-point range. Those shooting numbers aren’t anything new either. Last season, he hit 51 out of 103 three-point attempts. That is really, really good.

The Badgers will likely use Brad Davison to guard him. Guy isn’t the quickest uhhh… guy… around, so it might be a good matchup for the ultra-energetic Davison. If Davison can get a hand in his face and make him uncomfortable, Virginia’s offense will be forced to go to plan-B.

4. Wisconsin’s rotation is closer to being figured out

It isn’t perfect yet, but we finally have a bit more clarity on what Wisconsin’s rotation will be moving forward. The starting line-up will be Trice-Davison-Iverson-Ford-Happ. Brevin Pritzl and Kobe King will be the guards off the bench. Andy Van Vliet and Nathan Reuvers will be the first bigs to come in. Charles Thomas and Alex Illikainen will fight for scraps.

5. Hot shooting will be needed to pull the upset

As anybody that has watched any college basketball for the last 5 seasons knows, Tony Bennett and Virginia play a very stingy pack line defense. The only way to beat it? Get hot from three-point range. Now, Wisconsin will still obviously try to get the ball inside to Ethan Happ quite a bit. But the pack line defense is usually pretty successful at taking away post players.

In order to win, they are going to need explode from three-point range. The bad news is that Wisconsin has struggled from three-point range this season. The good news is that this team is due. They showed in the preseason tournaments and exhibitions that they can get hot. This is the time to do it.

Prediction: Virginia 59, Wisconsin 50

I still think Wisconsin is a good basketball team that is just playing a hard schedule. I still think they are going to win a lot of games this season. I just don’t see how this can be one of them. There will not be many possessions in this game, which means both teams are going to have to really make them count. Virginia is a lot better at doing that at this point in the season than Wisconsin is. They turn the ball over less, and are more efficient on offense and defense. I think Virginia will be in control of the game the whole way.

 

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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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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 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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