StLou's Previews: Wisconsin Badgers
The first night of the ACC - B1G Challenge kicks off with Virginia hosting the Wisconsin Badgers. Wiscy has faced one of the nation's toughest schedules so far, going 0-3 against Top 50 teams, and is hungry to get over that hump with Virginia. Is UVA going to be ready to repel one of the best coached teams in the country?
Date/Time: Monday, November 27th, 9:00 PM ET
Location: John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, VA
What 'They' Say
|Vegas:||VIRGINIA -8.5, O/U 122, equates to a 65-57 UVA win|
|TAPE:||Ranks Wisconsin #23, predicts a 65-56 UVA win, 82% confidence|
|KenPom:||Ranks Wisconsin #31, predicts a 63-55 UVA win, 78% confidence|
|PG||#0 D'Mitrik Trice, 6-0 177, SO|
|31.8 mpg, 10.5 ppg, 2.2 apg, 42% 3P%|
|SG||#34 Brad Davison, 6-3 205, FR|
|24.3 mpg, 11.8 ppg, 1 apg, 48% 3P%|
|SF||#21 Khalil Iverson, 6-5 210, JR|
|28.2 mpg, 8.3 ppg, 2.5 apg, 0% 3P%|
|PF||#2 Aleem Ford, 6-8 215, FR|
|20.3 mpg, 4.3 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 38% FG%|
|C||#22 Ethan Happ, 6-10 235, JR|
|29.8 mpg, 18.2 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 58% FG%|
|#1 Brevin Pritzl, 6-3 197, SO|
|22 mpg, 9.2 ppg, 1 apg, 32% 3P%|
|G||#23 Kobe King, 6-4 203, FR|
|14.3 mpg, 5 ppg, 0.3 apg, 30% 3P%|
|F/C||#35 Nate Reuvers, 6-10 215, FR|
|14 mpg, 0 ppg, 6 rpg, 0% FG%|
|C||#11 Andy Van Vliet, 7-0 228, JR|
|12.3 mpg, 6 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 42% FG%|
The ABC's of UW:
A) Discussion of Wisconsin begins with big man Ethan Happ. Happ arguably could be in the NBA right now, he was a third team All-American last year, but he elected to come back as the centerpiece of this year's Badger squad. So far he's living up to the hype; KenPom has him as the #2 player nationally right now (Bonzie Colson is #1), and the 5-man is putting up 18.2 points and 9.3 rebounds a night. He's not really a stretch threat, 0-4 on 3PAs so far this season, and never attempted any before this year, but the guy can get his points over most anyone. He is coughing up 2.5 TOs a game, which may be something to watch, but that may simply be a byproduct of his unusually high touch count. This will be Salt's toughest defensive assignment of his career.
B) This is a really young Badger team. Gone are the senior quartet of Nigel Hayes, Bronson Koenig, Vitto Brown, and Zak Showalter. Those four accounted for 64% of Wisconin's minutes and 77% of their points from their statement NCAAT win over Villanova last year. Happ is the lone returning starter, and stepping into major roles are four freshmen (two starting) and two sophomores. Despite none of them being blue chip recruits, they're acquitting themselves well so far against a tough schedule. SG Davidson is an elite shooter, dropping almost 12 points a night on 48% 3 point shooting.
C) Despite the abundance of new faces, this is still your daddy's Badger team. They play slow, grinding man defense. They like to pound the ball in the post. They take immaculate care of the ball, 12th nationally in offensive turnover percentage (only 12% of possessions). They don't get shots blocked. If there's one area they're not characteristically sharp, it's their defense. This isn't to say they're bad, their raw DEff is 95.3, 81st nationally. But they're giving up very pedestrian opponent shooting percentages, 49% inside, 34% outside, so hopefully we'll put up better shooting stats than we typically do against Wisconsin. Don't expect second chance points, however, Happ is leading them to an elite 78.9% defensive rebounding percentage, 19th nationally. Happ alone is the 12st best defensive rebounder in the country, single-handedly grabbing almost a third of all opponent misses (32.1%).
Their season to date:
Wisonsin is 3-3 on the year. They're averaging 25 points a win over SC State, Yale, and Milwaukee, but lost by 10 to Xavier at home, by 5 to Baylor and by 2 to a short-handed UCLA in the Hall of Fame classic.
Keys to getting the win:
1) Salt needs to give us 25 good minutes defending Happ. Last season, in our win over Georgia Tech, Salt had arguably the best game of his career by playing 35 minutes against all-ACC center Ben Lammers, holding him to only 7 points on 3-12 shooting (he averaged 14 on 52% that year), while committing only 2 fouls. If Salt can hold his own on Happ, merely slow him down without getting in foul trouble, play that type of game he played against Lammers, he can liberate the other four defenders to stifle Wiscy's young role players without giving up position to help the post. Expect Gard to have Salt scouted, and he'll (a) have Happ run ball screens and ask Salt to defend on the move, and (b) send guards driving to the paint begging Salt to help on them and try to draw fouls. Critical that Salt doesn't pick up early whistles on these.
2) Get into the lane and draw fouls. We're never going to be a team that lives and dies by the whistle, but we've improved our aggressiveness this year, our best FTA/FGA ratio since the 2014 season so far. Both Baylor and Xavior had success getting Wisconsin in foul trouble and supplementing their offenses with FTs, shooting 31 and 23 FTAs respectively. Iverson was the most foul prone in those two games, picking up 9 total, and both Van Vliet and Davison are foul prone as well. This is an opportunity for our downhill wings to do some damage.
3) Take away the three point line. The Badgers are shooting a respectable 35% as a team, and Trice and Davison are both dangerous. But in their losses, opponents have stifled them from deep, shooting a combined 19/67 (28%) from range in those three games. This is a historical strength of our D and needs to continue to be against the Badgers.
School Is In
Updated on November 26, 2017 by
Wisconsin lost four seniors from last year, and has replaced them with four freshmen. Tony Bennett's system operates its best when it pits experienced players against inexperienced; corollary is that it works its worst when it pits inexperienced players against experienced. Wisconsin is likely to have freshmen trying to deal with Isaiah Wilkins and Devon Hall. None of those freshmen has the physical strength to hold position against Wilkins. Aleem Ford, 6-8 freshman, should be Wilkins' initial matchup. When Virginia has the ball, the game plan should be the same: put Wilkins on the block and feed him. If Wisconsin plays him straight, he should have success against Ford, either with the jump hook or with his assortment of moves. He also has a step-through and a baseline spin that he showed off last year. Bet on his savvy against the freshman defender. If Wisconsin decides to double the post, I doubt their young, inexperienced lineup will be able to make the requisite rotations. Against UCLA, when the defense was forced to move and rotate, it fell apart and UCLA was able to penetrate it all the way to the rim or for wide open threes.
On defense, look for Wilkins to be kept off Happ, which will free him up to do what he does best and float around destroying the offense and helping all over the floor. Look for him to double Happ at times, although Virginia will have to be very careful not to leave the Badger shooters open. Brad Davison, in particular, will kill you if given space to get off his shot.
Devon Hall might not have the same kind of big game Monday night as he had on Friday, as he will likely be guarded by Wisconsin's best athlete, 6-5, 210-pound junior Khalil Iverson. When Iverson is not on him, then Hall will likely be guarded by 6-4, 203-pound freshman Kobe King, and look for Devon to be very aggressive during these stretches. Defensively, Devon will almost definitely be matched up against Iverson or King. Iverson does all his work in the paint. He won't overpower Hall like he does many defenders. King is a dynamic freshman who can shoot the open three, drive and also post up. He will challenge Hall, but he doesn't have Jared Terrell's senior tricks. Hall should be able to help as needed.
This could be another big game for Nigel Johnson. UCLA's guards got to the rim at will. If the Hoos move the ball well, gaps will open and Johnson should be able to find lanes to the basket. He will probably be matched up mostly with Wisconsin's most experienced guard, 6-0 sophomore D'Mitrick Trice, the little brother of Travis Trice. Johnson is at least as quick as and considerably stronger than Trice.
Wisconsin has some players, but other than Happ and Iverson, they are very young and will be a lot better in March than they are now. In the JPJ against the experience of our seniors? It should be a good learning experience for the young Badgers.
I'm having a hard time taking the points on this one, because Greg Gard and Tony are old friends and these two teams are just so similar in so many ways, from tactics to culture. This is going to be slow and close. We've got an edge in talent and experience, they've had the better preparation this season and have and all-American. It'll be a satisfying win, though maybe not one casual nationwide fans are going to enjoy watching.
Hoos win - 60-56