Bradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports

Badgers' Early Season Test Comes in Form of Florida

The forecast high in Gainsville, Flor., Tuesday, is 77-degrees.

When fans start filtering into the Kohl Center in downtown Madison for Wisconsin’s home opener that same day, look for that number to be in the upper 20’s.

The No. 10 ranked Florida Gators (1-0) won’t necessarily be in any need of a cool down when they roll into the Cheese State. Coach Billy Donovan’s team snuck away with a 77-69 win over in-state rival, North Florida (0-1), in their season opener. A win that left many in Gators camp wondering if this team would struggle through the early part of the season while dealing with injuries and a young rotation.

Twice North Florida came back from 16-point deficits against the Gators last week. A sign that says they’ll need to find consistency early if they want to keep ahead of Wisconsin, who from a look through the naked eye seems to hold a slight edge in this contest when looking at the match-ups.

The Wisconsin Badgers (1-0) got a quality win in their opener, but will need another stellar performance shooting the basketball if they look to build on their 86-75 defeat of St. Johns (0-1).

Bo Ryan, who improved to 292-113 overall in his ninth season, loves the early season schedule saying it is needed to get ready for what could be the most competitive conference season in all of NCAA hoops.

Judging from this end, things should be loud inside the Kohl Center, Tuesday. It took just under two hours for students at UW-Madison to sell out their allotment of student tickets after going on sale in mid-September. When first tip goes off tomorrow night it’s likely to be in front of a capacity crowd pushing over 18,000.

Looking back to the Badgers win over St. Johns, Wisconsin shot 46.3 percent from the field, making it 43 of their last 44 game,s when shooting 45 percent or better from the floor, they’ve won.

The game was the first back competitively for Josh Gasser, who admitted after the game that getting his game legs back might take some more time, but fatigue rarely showed as he scored a team-high 19 points and grabbed a game-high 8 rebounds in 35 minutes of action. Gasser went 8-for-8 at the free throw line and 3-for-5 from 3-point range.

Not bad being just 366 days removed from major knee surgery.

“I hadn’t really competed like that since the Syracuse game (in 2012),” Gasser said, afterwards.  “It just felt great to be out there and do all that. I could have played 40 minutes if I needed to.”

Wisconsin knocked down 11 long range bombs in their opening game win. Florida made just two in their win over North Florida – an area of interest when looking at tomorrow’s game and the match-ups around the outside.

Senior Ben Brust has been a big reason for success from behind the arc. Against St. Johns, he posted 15 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists, knocking down three 3-pointers. Dating back to last season, Brust has hit multiple 3-pointers in 17 of his last 18 games.

Making his first-ever career start for the Gators, sophomore forward DeVon Walker led Florida with 28 points. Brust or Gasser will likely draw that match-up , Tuesday.

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Tags: Ben Brust Billy Donovan Bo Ryan Josh Gasser Kohl Center Madison UW Badgers Basketball Wisconsin Basketball

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