The last time the Wisconsin Badgers were on the Kohl Center floor came more than one week ago, when freshman guard Brad Davison drew a charge 94 feet from UW’s basket with two seconds remaining. Davison split his ensuing pair of free throws and, in the process, jumpstarted a flurry of debate on if the play was smart or, as Western Kentucky Athletic Director Todd Stewart called it, “a disgrace.”
The Badgers’ 81-80 victory was crucial for a young Wisconsin team in need of a quality non-conference win. While UW has played eight games against KenPom’s top-60 and is one of only four teams in the nation to play four top-60 teams, the Badgers (1-1 Big Ten, 5-7 overall) are under .500 for the first time since 2001-’02 and their 19-year NCAA Tournament appearance streak is in serious jeopardy.
Enter Green Bay, the first of the three remaining non-conference opponents on Wisconsin’s schedule. The Phoenix (5-7), through 12 games, have struggled mightily on the offensive end of the floor. While they possess the ball for on-average only 14.8 seconds per possession, UW-GB struggles to make much of its time on offense. Green Bay shoots only 40.6 percent from 2-point range and 32.8 percent from three. Its adjusted offensive efficiency is toward the bottom of the country for that reason and while it’s fared better against foes such as Lakeland, Wisconsin Parkside and Rockford, its fallen to Belmont, Missouri and Mississippi State in convincing fashion.
Wisconsin will be playing its third consecutive game without guards D’Mitrik Trice and Kobe King. King is out for the season after having left knee surgery while Trice is out indefinitely after having left foot surgery. UW, as a result, is looking to continue getting its reserves more-game action prior to conference play. Expect redshirt junior guard T.J. Schlundt to continue to play a heavy workload for the Badgers and Walt McGrory, a walk-on freshman guard, to received extended minutes as well.
The Badgers are experimenting with new lineup combinations after their recent wave of injuries, and they are hoping that games against Green Bay, Chicago State and UMass Lowell provide both victories and vital gameplay opportunities for their young and inexperienced roster.
Before re-entering conference play on Jan. 2 against Indiana, the Badgers are looking to craft its longest winning streak of the season. Tipoff for Saturday night’s game is 4:30 p.m. The game can be seen on BTN.