When the Wisconsin Badgers take the court Friday against the Wofford Terriers, they may feel as if they are looking into a mirror.
In terms of enrollment, the University of Wisconsin is one of the largest schools in the NCAA Tournament and Wofford College is the smallest. Yet the two schools play very similar styles of basketball, which should make for an interesting matchup in Jacksonville.
Furthermore, though the styles between the Badgers and Terriers are so similar, the offensive and defensive statistics of the two are shockingly close.
Offensively, Wisconsin holds a slight edge over Wofford, shooting 44.4 percent from the floor compared to 44.1 percent for the Terriers. On the defensive end, though, the teams’ opponent shooting percentage is identical, with both allowing 41.8 percent overall.
“It’s obviously different bodies, different jerseys, but in terms of positioning and tendencies and what they try to take away and don’t give up (we are similar),” assistant head coach Greg Gard said of Wofford. “You don’t get much to the rim on them; you don’t get much in transition. It’s hard to get wide open perimeter looks, so it’ll be a heck of a battle.”
Wisconsin and Wofford share similar numbers in 3-point shooting as well.
The biggest difference between the two teams beyond the arc is in total 3-point attempts, with the Badgers having attempted 83 more than the Terriers while scoring 111 more points. UW also holds the edge over Wofford in percentage, shooting 36.1 percent from 3-point range compared to 34.9 percent for Wofford.
Another similarity between the two teams comes on the boards, an area in which the Terriers typically perform better than the Badgers.
Despite having zero starters taller than 6-foot-6, the Terriers are a strong rebounding team. Wofford actually boasts greater rebounding statistics than Wisconsin, pulling down 35.5 per game compared with just 32.4 per game for the Badgers. The Terriers’ 2.8 rebounding margin also is 0.6 more per game than that for UW.
One of the keys to Wofford’s success on the glass is Noah Dahlman, the 2010 Southern Conference Player of the Year. Dahlman, a 6-foot-6 forward averages 6.3 boards per game.
“They’re just relentless,” Gard said. “They just constantly go; especially Noah. He’s constantly got a on guys, he’s moving guys out of the way (and his) positioning is great.”
Although much of Gard’s familiarity with Dahlman comes through watching film, the Wisconsin assistant has plenty of first hand knowledge of the Minnesota native. With four current players on their roster from the state, it’s no secret Bo Ryan and the Badgers have made their presence felt in the state of Minnesota.
Although Ryan’s pipeline into the state has more history, Wofford has more recently found recruiting success in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Three current Terriers — Cameron Rundles, Dahlman and Jamar Diggs — are from Minnesota. The trio also played AAU ball together.
One Badger who is very familiar with Dahlman is sophomore guard Jordan Taylor, who also played on the same team with Rundles, Dahlman and Diggs.
Even at a young age, Taylor was impressed with the effort and skill of the Terriers’ star.
“He’s a workhorse, or he was back then,” Taylor said. “I can only imagine he’s gotten better since then. I know he had a great season down there.”
Another Badger, Minnesota native Jon Leuer, is also familiar with Dahlman, though his knowledge is not to the extent of Taylor’s. According to Leuer, he played against the native of Braham, Minn., while growing up.
Yet, with limited current knowledge of the Terriers’ leading scorer, Leuer offered a game plan that could apply to any number of star players across the country.
“He’s a good player and he can do a lot of different things,” Leuer said. “We’re just going to have to try to limit that.”
Although the players may not know too many specifics about Dahlman, they are well aware of the fact that he is a high-caliber athlete. After watching him on film, senior guard Jason Bohannon did not offer a comparison of anyone to whom Dahlman’s style is similar.
The description of Dahlman that Bohannon did offer, though, is one that could apply to nearly anyone contributing significant minutes on the Wisconsin Badgers’ roster. Further, Bohannon noted UW would need to focus on itself more than Dahlman and Wofford.
“He’s just a smart player,” Bohannon said. “He does a great job using his body, finding the open guy when necessary and (he’s) good finishing around the hoop. Regardless of what he does, we’ve got to stick to our same fundamentals and same rules. We won’t change anything up.”
Considering the similarities between Wisconsin and Wofford, that shouldn’t be too difficult.