No. 17 University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team takes on No. 22 Syracuse University at the Kohl Center Tuesday night in the second chapter of the ACC/Big Ten rivalry series between the two schools.
Wisconsin and Syracuse head into Tuesday’s battle on the backs of two completely different results in their last games. The Badgers (4-2) are fresh off a 55-point drubbing of Prairie View A&M University that witnessed senior forward Nigel Hayes score a game-high 17 points in only 19 minutes.
Despite winning four consecutive games to start the season, Syracuse fell by 14 to the University of South Carolina in the final of the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational tournament last Saturday. The Orange averaged more than 83 points per game through those first four games, but managed only 50 in their 64-50 loss to the Gamecocks.
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While UW has yet to see a team anywhere Syracuse’s caliber on its home floor this season, the Badgers have managed a 3-0 record thus far. On the other hand, Tuesday’s challenge in Madison serves as the first, true away game of the year for Syracuse.
Keeping the score low is a strategy that Wisconsin has thrived on for years, and Saturday won’t be any different. If the Badgers are going to win, they’ll need to contain an explosive Syracuse offense lead by graduate guard Andrew White III.
White III, who is currently averaging 15.8 points per game, is far from the only weapon that the Orange can use to run away with the score in the blink of an eye though. As of Tuesday night, Syracuse boasts four players who are averaging double digits in points per game.
Tuesday night showcases an exciting battle under the rim between standout sophomore forwards from both teams. Despite posting 11.9 points per game thus far, Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ has made a name for himself through tenacious defense in the paint.
The sophomore forward currently leads the Badgers in steals this season by a mile, but also boasts the second highest block total. Happ has averaged just shy of two pickpockets per game — unconventionally talented hands for a big man — with more than double (13) Bronson Koenig’s second-highest total of six.
Happ’s challenge comes in the form of 6-foot-9-inches, 223-pound Tyler London, who has become Syracuse’s second-highest scorer with an 11.4 PPG through five games.
Syracuse’s offense, however, is debatably less dangerous than their suffocating defense. Through the same four-game season opening stretch, Syracuse allowed only 52.5 points per game from the defensive side.
Legendary Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim is notorious for his team’s masterful execution of the 2-3 zone defense. Boeheim has perfected this scheme for quite some time frustrating opposing head coaches.
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Given Wisconsin’s offensive blunder against then-No. 6 University of North Carolina in the title game of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational tournament last week, Boeheim’s 2-3 may pose a crippling threat the UW offense.
The Badgers will need to get their offensive stars, such as senior guard Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes rolling early in order to come out on top of the ‘Cuse.
Wisconsin vs. Syracuse Game Details:
Where: Kohl Center, Madison, Wisconsin
When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 29
TV: ESPN (Channel 660 on UW Residence Hall Cable) / WatchESPN
Line: Wisconsin (-5.5)