Despite a Monday afternoon Press Conference mix up, the Wisconsin Badgers do indeed have a game before Saturday. That game is Wednesday night against the Colgate Raiders at 7 p.m. at the Kohl Center.
Wisconsin comes in off an 85-31 drubbing of Kennesaw State last Saturday, while Colgate comes in off a 78-74 victory over Binghamton last Saturday as well. Wisconsin will meet Colgate for the first time ever. The last time the Badgers met a team from the Patriot League was the second round of the 2005 NCAA Tournament, a 71-62 victory over the Bucknell Bison.
Last game, Wisconsin stormed out of the gate. After falling behind 3-0, the Badgers scored the next 16 points to take control of the game. The Badgers will look for a similar start against Colgate. The Badgers drained 15-25 3-pointers in the victory. If that game is any indication, this may be one of the best shooting Badger teams in recent memory.
Colgate, predicted to finish sixth in its conference, is coming off a 7-23 season and only 4-10 in conference play. Senior guard Mike Venezia won the Patriot League Player of the Week award, scoring 22 points on 6-12 shooting and 4-8 from behind the 3-point line. Senior forward Sterling Melville added 17 points as well. Fellow forward Yaw Gyawu led the Raiders in scoring a season ago with 12.6 points per game. He scored seven points on 3-10 shooting, but just 1-5 from the free throw line.
The Raiders are a very experienced team, with three of its top scorers being seniors and another starter who is a junior.
A key matchup to watch is Gyawu going up against Wisconsin's Mike Bruesewitz. Colgate's leading scorer from last year is going up against a player in Bruesweitz who carried the momentum from a solid NCAA Tournament into the opening game of this season, having seven points, eight rebounds and four assists. Senior Ryan Evans will have to be the one who contains Melville. Evans had an impressive opening game against Kennesaw State with 13 points, six rebounds and four assists, while Gasser will have to contain Venezia. Obviously Wisconsin is not Binghamton, so I don't expect Melville and Venezia to have the same type of success. Those two have to have huge games along with Gyawu if Colgate wants to have a chance of pulling off the upset.
Wisconsin will have the obvious edge on the bench as well. Sophomore guard Ben Brust had a huge day Saturday, but will he be able to consistently provide that spark off the bench, much like Jason Bohannon did for much of his career? One interesting thing to watch is if freshmen Jarrod Uthoff or George Marshall see playing time. They both didn't play at all against Kennesaw State and if they don't play against Colgate either, it would lead one to believe they will be redshirted.
And finally, look for All-American Jordan Taylor to take more of a scoring role. He has been a distributor the past two games and at some point, Taylor will come out and have the monster game Wisconsin fans are accustomed to. It wouldn't be surprising to see him to have a 25-point performance with seven or eight assists.
The Badgers once again should have no trouble with its opponent. The games right now are in preparation for bigger games down the road against UNLV, Marquette and at North Carolina.