Wisconsin wraps up its exhibition schedule tonight against an in-state rival. Not Marquette, not UW-Milwaukee, not even UW-Green Bay. Instead, UW-Superior will travel from the northern tip of Wisconsin to Madison to face the Badgers.
It is the second and final preseason contest for Wisconsin, with the season opener right around the corner Sunday against Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.
The Badgers won their other exhibition contest comfortably last Wednesday against Division II opponent Bemidji State. This time it will be a Division III opponent for Wisconsin.
UW-Superior, a Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference team, went 11-14 last season and 4-12 within its conference, finishing in a seventh-place tie. This season, the Yellowjackets were selected to finish in seventh place again by the WIAC Sports Information Directors.
Being a major Division I program, the Badgers enter this game with noticeable advantages across the board, particularly in size, but one strength of the Yellowjackets that Wisconsin must be aware of is their outside shooting.
""We know they can shoot,"" junior forward Keaton Nankivil said.
Associate head coach Greg Gard is also keeping an eye out for the outside shooting threat UW-Superior may pose.
""Most guys on their team are going to be very good shooters,"" Gard said. ""We're going to have to guard the three exceptionally well.""
Leading the 3-point attack for the Yellowjackets is junior guard Dan Culy, who connected on a team-high 51 3-pointers last season and shot the long-distance shot at 38 percent. Culy's 135 3-point attempts last season were 83 more than UW-Superior's next most frequent 3-point launcher.
One UW-Superior player specifically noted by Gard was junior forward Jake Smith, who led the Yellowjackets with 17.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per game last season. Smith also put up a 49 percent field-goal percentage.
Wisconsin was pleased with multiple facets of its performance last week against Bemidji State.
""We did a good job taking care of the ball, getting good shots,"" senior guard Jason Bohannon said. ""I thought we did a good job of moving the ball around the perimeter and finding open shots on the floor.""
Gard was happy with the way Wisconsin translated its solid play in practice to a game-type situation.
""We played how we've been practicing,"" Gard said. ""And that's one thing you're always concerned about when you play the first exhibition game.""
Not everything went smoothly for Wisconsin, however. The Badgers had 13 turnovers, with many of them coming during a short span in the second half.
""There was a little turnover spree we had in the second half that we can't really have when we actually get into game-type situations,"" Bohannon said.
The Badgers also put up lackluster production in both 3-point and free-throw shooting. As a team, Wisconsin shot 25 percent (5 for 20) behind the arc, including an 0-for-4 effort from junior forward Tim Jarmusz.
At the stripe, Wisconsin converted only 19 of 32 free-throw attempts, good for 59 percent. In particular, freshman Ryan Evans struggled with his foul shots, going 4-for-8.
""We've got to shoot the [free-throw] line better than we did,"" Gard said.
The game tips off at 7 p.m. and is webcasted on BigTenNetwork.com.