by Jonathon Zenk
Wisconsin heads to Hoffman Estates, Ill., for its next matchup, against the Bradley Braves of the Missouri Valley Conference at 7:30 p.m. at the Sears Centre Tonight. The Badgers will try to improve to 5-0 for the first since the 2007-08 season.
The overall series is tied 2-2 with Bradley winning both games at home and Wisconsin winning at home and on a neutral site. This is the first meeting since a 63-57 Badgers victory over the Braves in 1989.
With a victory, Wisconsin Head Coach Bo Ryan will pass Hall of Famer Walter Meanwell and move into second place all alone in most wins at Wisconsin. He currently is 19 wins behind Harold "Bud" Foster, who has 265 wins.
Jared Berggren moved into the team lead in points per game at 13.5, 0.5 better than Ben Brust with a career-high 21 points against UMKC. Berggren is shooting 55 percent from the field and 41 percent from beyond the arc, although he had been struggling shooting 3-pointers before game as he just went 3-13 in the first three games.
Bradley comes in at 3-1 having lost its last game at home to the Wofford Terriers, a team who Wisconsin just beat handily this past weekend. The Braves are led by senior forward Taylor Brown. He is averaging 18 points and 8.8 rebounds per game and is also tied for second on the team in assists. His clutch 3-point play helped Bradley defeat Southeast Missouri State 66-65 earlier this year as well. Another player to watch for is junior guard Dyricus Simms-Edwards. The junior averages 16.5 points per game and has scored at least 20 points in two of the team's first four games. And finally, sophomore Jordan Prosser is a beast on the glass, averaging 10.5 rebounds per game, including hauling in 17 in its opening game against UMKC.
The Braves come in averaging nearly 70 points per game and has not been held under 60 yet this season. However, Wisconsin leads the nation in scoring defense, giving up an average of just 34 points per game and only allowing one team to even hit 40 points.
The matchup to watch will be at point guard where Taylor will go up against Bradley sophomore Walt Lemon Jr, who is averaging 11 points per game and is shooting 53.3 percent from the field. However, he struggles as a 3-point shooter, shooting only 25 percent this year after shooting just 32.4 percent from beyond the arc a year ago.
This game will be closer than the other four games for Wisconsin, but still won't be close. The Braves just don't have the talent to keep up with the Badgers. If Wisconsin has the hot hand from beyond the arc like they have the previous four games, it will get out of hand early. Bradley may be 3-1, but they lost to Wofford, a team which was crushed by Wisconsin, and barely beat Southeast Missouri State.
PREDICTION: Wisconsin 71, Bradley 46