The Wisconsin Badgers are part of an absolutely stacked field in this year’s Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, a field that also features Florida, North Carolina, UCLA, Oklahoma, Georgetown, Butler, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).
While Badgers fans would surely love to see their team go up against a perennial college basketball powerhouse like Florida, North Carolina, or UCLA, Wisconsin will first have to get through the UAB Blazers before they can go toe-to-toe with one of these teams.
The bracket for the tournament, which is held in the Bahamas over Thanksgiving weekend, was revealed Tuesday, with the Badgers getting pitted against the Blazers on November 26th in the first round of the tournament. The other three matchups for the opening round are Florida vs. Georgetown, UCLA vs. Oklahoma, and Butler vs. North Carolina.
— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) August 5, 2014
If Wisconsin defeats UAB, they will move on to face the winner of the Florida-Georgetown game in the semifinals of the tournament. This means there’s potential for a rematch of last year’s showdown between the Gators and the Badgers, both of whom went on to make the Final Four. Though UW was victorious in last season’s meeting between the two teams, Florida was without several of its key players, including SEC Player of the Year Scottie Wilbiken, so it would be interesting to see them face off again when both are at full strength.
As for Wisconsin’s game against UAB, it will be the first-ever meeting between the two programs.
The Blazers are entering their third season under head coach Jerod Haase, who has guided the team to a 34-30 record in his first two seasons. Haase, a former assistant under Roy Williams at both Kansas and North Carolina, has to replace five of his top six scorers from last year’s squad, but he does return senior forward C.J. Washington, who averaged 13 points and 6.9 rebounds for the Blazers last season.
Wisconsin will obviously be heavily favored to beat UAB, but upsets haven’t been uncommon in the Battle 4 Atlantis’ brief history. During the 2011 tournament, Central Florida stunned fourth-ranked Connecticut in the semifinals. And just last year, then-unranked Villanova took down second-ranked Kansas in a win that helped jumpstart their surprisingly successful season.
After winning the Cancún Challenge last year, the Badgers are looking to win another early season tournament championship and join Harvard, Duke, and Villanova as teams that have captured the Battle 4 Atlantis title. To do so, they’ll have to run the gauntlet through a loaded field on Paradise Island, starting with the UAB Blazers.