David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Badgers to Face Gators in Huge Non-Conference Matchup

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Wakeup Grateful Red, its game day.

The No. 20 Wisconsin Badgers tip off their home schedule by welcoming in the No. 11 Florida Gators to the Kohl center tonight.

This game is an early measuring stick for both squads and even though it is only the second game of the year for both teams, there is no doubt – this one’s a resume builder. The victorious team should walk away from this game confident knowing they will have already notched a “quality win.”

Although, the Badgers may already have a quality win coming off of their season opening win over St. John’s. Time will tell if that was a quality win but a win over Florida will undoubtedly carry weight when seeds are dealt out, come March.

Florida is also coming off a win over North Florida, not overly impressive but the game may have been the coming out party for senior forward Casey Prather. Prather averaged only 6.2 points-per-game last season but this may be his year as he dropped a game-high 28 points in the opener. The Badgers will need to neutralize Prather’s inside game to come away with a win in Madison tonight.

The Badgers are a young bunch and will continue to grow as the season progresses but this game is going to force a few of the young kids to grow up fast. The Badgers’ inexperienced front court will be tested against a talented Florida team down low.

Frank Kaminsky will need to show that he can be a legitimate playmaker at center, look for him to step his game up tonight. True freshman forward Nigel Hayes may get extended minutes in this contest as well and for a freshman a game this early in the season doesn’t get any bigger than this. If these two players bring it and bang in the paint and get rebounds Wisconsin should be in good shape.

What Wisconsin lost in experience to graduation in the front court it gained in the backcourt. Junior Josh Gasser, who missed all of last season due to injury, came out looking determined in the Badgers’ season opener. Gasser led all scorers with 19 points and went 3-5 from three point land. Wisconsin will need Gasser to stay hot while the young frontcourt gets its feed underneath them in this tough game.

The Badgers have won 15 consecutive season openers and this may be the hardest of all of them. Florida is very athletic and the Badgers will need to use their patented swing offense to slow the pace. If Bucky imposes it’s will and forces the Gators to play a half-court game the cardinal red and white should walk out of the Kohl Center victorious.

Badgers faithful are hoping Sam Dekker and company send the Gators back to Florida with nightmares of the Grateful Red (Wisconsin’s passionate student section) and never want to come back to the Kohl Center again.

The game can be viewed on ESPN2 at 8:00 PM CT.

Let’s go Bucky!

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Tags: Florida Gators Frank Kaminsky Josh Gasser Wisconsin Wisconsin Basketball

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