After a rough showing at the Legends Classic Tournament in New York, Wisconsin’s record fell to 4-3 after a loss to both Richmond and New Mexico during tournament play. However, the Badgers look to turn things around as they prepare to face NC State (5-2) during the Big Ten/ACC Challenge in Raleigh, NC on Wednesday.
In both tournament games, junior forward Nate Reuvers led the team offensively, scoring 17 points against Richmond and then 16 points against New Mexico, and he was really the only consistent player. Against Richmond sophomore guard Kobe King contributed 10 points, but then put up only 6 points against New Mexico. In the opposite manner, junior guard D’Mitrik Trice only hit one three-pointer and put up just 5 points against Richmond, but turned things around with 11 points and 7 rebounds during the New Mexico game.
Overall, the Badgers struggled tremendously to knock down the outside shot. Against the Spiders, the Badgers mustered up a mere 25 percent from the three-point line and just 34 percent from field goal range. Not only did Wisconsin struggle with the outside shot, but it also had trouble establishing its presence in the paint as Richmond held the Badgers to just 10 points in the paint.
Looking at the matchup against New Mexico, the shooting from behind the arc was not any better. Trice and senior guard Brevin Pritzl were the only two players to hit a three-pointer, resulting in a final 7.7 percent from three-point range. Unfortunately, Wisconsin’s inability to knock down the outside shot played a huge role in both tournament losses.
Taking a look at NC State, it too enters this matchup coming off a loss after falling 78-83 to No. 16 Memphis at home. The Wolfpack are currently led by senior guard CJ Bryce who averages almost 18 points and 7 rebounds a game. Trailing close behind is junior guard Devon Daniels with an average of 14 points. Against Memphis, senior guard Markell Johnson and sophomore forward Jericole Hellems helped keep NC State in the game, scoring 22 and 17 points respectively. One advantage for NC State is it returned a handful of leading scorers from last season, many of whom are now senior leaders on the team, so multiple players are able to put up significant points.
The last time Wisconsin faced NC State was last year during the Big Ten/ACC Challenge when the Badgers walked away with a narrow 79-75 win, due in large part to the controversial charge junior guard Brad Davison drew against Johnson with just 16 seconds remaining. Trice also came up big in that game with a much-needed long jumper with 23 seconds left as the Wolfpack trailed by three. Johnson was the leader of the Wolfpack that night with 21 points, followed by Bryce with 18 points.
Needless to say, the Wolfpack are out to redeem themselves after a tough loss last year, as seniors like Johnson and Bryce are looking to finish their final season with a win over a Big Ten opponent. Additionally, both Wisconsin and NC State are looking to end their losing streaks, so it should be a close game. Size wise, junior forward for the Wolfpack D.J. Funderburk, who is averaging 11.5 points a game, matches up nicely with Reuvers, although Reuvers’ outside scoring ability gives him an advantage. In terms of scoring, most of the Wolfpack’s leading scorers’ points derive from inside the three-point line, so it will be important for the Badgers to establish dominance in the paint early on. Additionally, it may go without saying, but the Badgers must figure out a way to score from behind the arc if it hopes to break its losing streak.
Tipoff is set for 8:15 p.m. at PNC Arena.