Coming off the heels of a 66-43 victory over Bradley last night Wisconsin plays it's 2nd game in as many days as it takes on BYU for the championship of the Chicago Invitational Challenge at 7pm Central tonight. The Badgers are trying to go 6-0 to start a season for the first time since the 1996-97 season.
Standing in their way are the 4-1 BYU Cougars, who are coming off their third straight victory, a 76-55 win over Nevada last night and are learning to deal with life post Jimmer Freddette. Leading the way for the Cougars in that game were the duo of G/F Charles Abouo and star forward Brian Hartsock with 22 and 21 points a piece in the win over the Wolfpack.
Overall the Cougars have three big time players in Hartsock, Abouo, and guard Brandon Davies. Hartsock leads the team in scoring averaging 16.6 points a game while also pulling down 5.6 rebounds and shooting 63% from the field for the young season. Abouo and Davies also average double figures at 14.8 and 12.6 points per game respectively.
BYU is easily the toughest test the Badgers have faced so far this year as the Cougars are averaging 78.6 points a game as a team and have a +21.2 scoring margin, so it's not as if they aren't capable of playing good defense either. They are shooting 52.6%% from the field and 45.2% from three point land.
As we saw last night turnovers are a key to any Badgers defense and luckily BYU gives them a chance, averaging 16 TO's a game and only have a 1.2 assists/turnover ratio. It's also not as if Wisconsin can't score, averaging 73 points a game themselves, while having a huge +37.2 scoring margin to start the season, while giving up only 35.8 points a game.
The key match up in this game will be Mike Bruseweitz and Jared Berggren on the Cougars best player and inside presence, Brian Hartsock. They'll need to contain him on the defensive end and continue to score like they have offensively.
For the season the Badgers are being lead by 4 players averaging in double figures. Heading that list is the aforementioned Berggren with 12.2 points a game. Joining him in double figures are Josh Gasser (11.6ppg), Ben Brust (11.2ppg), and Ryan Evans (10.8ppg). Gasser is having one of the best starts to the season shooting the ball in recent history, hitting on 90% of his 3 point attemps (14-17) and 66.7% of his field goals.
The biggest take away from last night's game for Wisconsin had to be the reemergence of preseason all-American PG Jordan Taylor, who tied for the team lead with 15 points. He added 6 assists to his season high in points and very well could be the one to take over this offense again tonight.
Something will have to give for sure as the Badgers haven't given up more than 43 points to any opponent so far on the year and BYU has been scoring like crazy. In the end I see Wisconsin giving up more points than it has all season, but I think they are just way too deep and talented to not pull this game out. It will be close until the end, but I expect a Badgers win 66-55.