The No. 4 Wisconsin Badgers welcome the Milwaukee Panthers to the Kohl Center on Wednesday night, Dec. 11.
Wisconsin has been impressive this season and look to keep their record undefeated as they face the Panthers who are a surprising 9-2. Not to mention, in-state games always have an extra sense of urgency attached to them.
Milwaukee was picked to finish near the bottom of the Horizon League but have far out-performed that prognostication on the year thus far. The Panthers are riding a five game winning streak and have more wins than every other team in the Horizon. They shouldn’t be taken lightly despite the Badgers’ dominance at the Kohl Center in the Bo Ryan era.
This game is the first of three final non-conference matchups before the Badgers kick off Big Ten play on Jan. 2, the day after the Wisconsin football team plays in the Capital One Bowl.
It’s an exciting time for the Badgers as they have climbed into the AP top 5 for the first time since 2007. And it’s deserved; they have multiple players out-performing their preseason expectations.
I anticipated sophomore Sam Dekker to step up and play at the star-level he is, but Frank Kaminsky is playing like an All-American while freshmen Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig have both impressed coming off the bench.
The Badgers have all five starters averaging double-digit points-per-game and as impressive as that is the Panthers have four starters averaging over 12 points-per-game and receive more balanced scoring from their bench.
Of course the Panthers haven’t faced a daunting schedule like the Badgers but still their scoring ability, at 76.9 points-per-game, cannot be ignored.
The Badgers are averaging 73.2 points-per-game but are employing their trademark brand of stingy defense to go with their consistent scoring.
To win this game and move on to 11-0 the Badgers must slowdown 6’8” sophomore forward Matt Tiby who is averaging 14.7 points-per-game. He has also scored at least 20 points three times on the season.
Watch for a combination of Kaminsky, Dekker and Hayes to slow down Tiby. But he is not the only scoring threat. Senior guard Jordan Aaron is a threat to have a big game as he dropped 33 points against the UMKC Kangaroos three games ago. Undoubtedly, one of the Badgers’ starting guards will draw the assignment to slow down Aaron and if they can it will go a long way to continuing on the Badgers’ perfect season.
I’m anticipating more scoring from the Badgers’ bench in this contest. I’m looking at Hayes, Koenig, and Duje Dukan to all score at least six points against the Panthers. Do not be surprised to see cameo appearances by Evan Anderson, Zach Bohannon and Vitto Brown either, as the Badgers seek win number 11.
It was a good week last week for the Badgers and Bo Ryan. Last Wednesday against Virginia, Ryan picked up his 300th victory and on Saturday the Badgers went on to defeat in-state rival Marquette.
You can see Bo Ryan go for win 302 and the Badgers go for their 11th consecutive win on the season at the Kohl Center Wednesday. Dec. 11 at 7:00 PM CT.