How to watch or stream
Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
TV: Fox Sports 1
Stream: Fox Sports Go (where available)
Line: The game opened as a pick ‘em, but Wisconsin moved to a 1.5 point favorite.
In lieu of a traditional preview, I reached out to my good friend Jake Kocorowski, editor of Bucky’s Fifth Quarter, SB Nation’s Wisconsin blog. His answers about the Badgers can be found below.
Big East Coast Bias: Obviously Ethan Happ won’t get a triple-double every game this season, but we now have three years of evidence that he is consistently very good. Is there a way to slow him down?
Jake Kocorowski: I actually think Coppin State did a really good job of stopping him offensively (just 10 points for the game). Add a double or triple team here and there at the right time and make Wisconsin’s other players beat you. Against the Eagles, D’Mitrik Trice and Brevin Pritzl made some huge threes to help pull away in the first half, during which the Badgers shot 50 percent from the field and 9-of-17 from three-point range.
Can Wisconsin continue the solid shooting when Happ passes out of those double teams? We’ll see. You can also attempt to foul him and force him to beat you with free throws, as he’s just 57 percent from the charity stripe for his career. However, he did hit all four of his free throws against Coppin State, including the final two to get the triple double.
BECB: Last year was a disappointing year for Wisconsin, but the freshmen performed very well, especially down the stretch. Does that look like it will continue in their sophomore seasons?
JK: After one game, it is a small sample size, but true sophomores Brad Davison and Nate Reuvers should continue their respective progressions into more prominent players on the team, especially with the former now having two healthy arms after recovering from his shoulder injury.
Against Coppin State, Davison registered nine points and five rebounds, with Reuvers recording eight and four, respectively. Both did not shoot particularly well (2-of-9 each), but they should be among the many contributors on the team. I do not expect those shooting woes to continue for them.
Reuvers in particular told me he gained about 20 to 25 pounds in the offseason to fill out his frame more. It showed in the Red/White Scrimmage a few weeks back and we’ll see if his presence is felt more during games---and he will be needed with a player like Aleem Ford out indefinitely after knee surgery.
BECB: Wisconsin is 0-2 in the Gavitt Games. What can they do to change that this year?
JK: I think it just goes back to really Wisconsin playing the basketball it knows it can play. It really sounds cliche, but be efficient, make the right passes to set up the wide open shot. Happ is the focal point of the offense, and if the opponent does not take care of him first, he will hurt you around the rim and make you pay with layups and short jumpers. If the Badgers can hit those available shots when Happ is double teamed, this team has a lot of potential to make some noise this year. That could be a big if, especially with Ford--who led the team in three-point percentage last year--on the shelf for a while.
Another area is turnovers, which again sounds cliche, but Wisconsin only committed five turnovers while dishing out 17 assists against Coppin State. If they protect their possessions and not allow Xavier to get out to any fast break runs or easy points, they should be extremely competitive against the Musketeers.
BECB: Who wins and why?
JK: Hopefully I don’t sound like a homer, but I think Wisconsin pulls it off in Cincinnati on Tuesday night. The two teams played tough last year in the Kohl Center, with UW actually leading at one point before Xavier took it in the end. With a lot of turnover on the Musketeers’ part, especially with a new coach and the key departures of J.P. Macura and Trevon Bluiett, I wonder how they’ll play against a Badgers squad that looks healthy and has the return of Trice and the athletic Kobe King--the latter of which is a three-level scorer who could develop into one of Wisconsin’s more potent contributors before all is said and done. I’m feeling like an 80-75 type game.