UWGB guard Keifer Sykes wove his way near the three-point line for the game-tying opportunity before his shot at overtime clanked off the rim. The Wisconsin basketball team would escape their in-state rivalry game with a three-point victory and move on to an undefeated 3-0 on the season. While it wasn’t pretty, the bottom line was a Wisconsin road victory.
“That was a good team we played, in an environment that was pretty electric,” head coach Bo Ryan said, as the focus now switches to Tuesday night’s opponent North Dakota.
While UND has had nearly a full week to prep for the Badgers, its only game this season came against Division III team Minnesota-Morris, a public liberal arts school. Not only will they be travelling to the Kohl Center, they’ll find an opponent now ranked in the top 15 in the nation and two division-classes higher than their last opponent.
The game will be Wisconsin’s first of three games this week, in a five day span. When it comes to preparation for those games, the game plan is more Wisconsin-based than opponent-based for Ryan.
“You’ve got to be doing well what you’re trying right now,” Ryan said. “Three different opponents in five-and-a-half days, it better be about what you’re trying to get done, moreso that what your opponent brings.”
What North Dakota will bring is their top two scorers from a season ago in the pair of senior guards Troy Huff and Aaron Anderson. Anderson was the leading scorer in North Dakota’s first game, netting 23 points while Huff chipped in 18. The duo combined to average 32 points per game a season ago.
More than likely the North Dakota pair will see an array of Wisconsin defenders Tuesday night, as the backcourt is a deep position swaying in the Badgers’ favor. Even though redshirt sophomore guard George Marshall has missed the last 60 minutes of game time, it remains a competitive spot for any Badger.
Freshman point guard Bronson Koenig fit into the mix against UWGB when Traevon Jackson was in foul trouble. Marshall was once the man to fill that role, and it will fluctuate game-by-game, but the competition remains tight within the Wisconsin mold.
“It’s pretty competitive there in the backcourt,” Ryan said. “You can’t hiccup a lot.”
In defending Huff and Anderson, the competition might find a few hiccups.