The University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team spent their Thanksgiving break in the Bahamas where they participated in the eight-team ‘Battle 4 Atlantis’ tournament. After three days of games, the Badgers advanced to the final without too much trouble but ultimately fell against No. 4 Virginia in the championship match.
To kick off the tournament, Wisconsin had to scrap their way through an ugly game against Stanford in the quarterfinals where the Badgers turned the ball over heavily early on with eight giveaways in the first 15 minutes of play. But the team regathered and gave the ball up just three more times in the remainder of the game.
The Badgers’ scoring was nicely distributed: D’Mitrik Trice and Ethan Happ both notched 16 points, and Khalil Iverson finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds. This was Iverson’s first double-double of the season. Happ also finished with a double-double, securing 12 boards to go with his 16 points. On top of that, Nate Reuvers had a breakout defensive performance, tying the school record for blocks in a game with nine.
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Despite the final score of 62–46, Wisconsin did not look as collected as the scoreboard suggested. Early turnovers aside, the Badgers were 1-8 on 3-point field goals and ended with just two assists, the fewest total assists so far this season. But ultimately they got the job done, advancing to the semi-final round against the Oklahoma Sooners.
On Thanksgiving Day, the Badgers’ chemistry was apparent as D’Mitrik Trice took over the game against Oklahoma. Trice set his career high with 25 points after hitting seven consecutive 3-pointers while shooting 61.5 percent from the field. Kobe King contributed tremendous production off the bench pouring on 14 points in his 26 minutes. Happ had yet another double-double in the matchup, and the Badgers took care of the Oklahoma Sooners by a score of 78–58.
After the semi-final win against the Sooners, Wisconsin met the No. 4 Virginia Cavaliers in the championship game for a defensive showdown. Too many mistakes in the game put the Badgers in a bad position from the beginning.
Wisconsin totaled 13 turnovers in the game while Virginia only turned the ball over five times while scoring 12 points off the Wisconsin miscues. In a game that was slow-paced and played within the half court, Virginia just outplayed the Badgers defensively as they finished with nine steals and two blocks.
But the Badgers battled back, nearly overcoming a 15-point halftime deficit only to lose 63–56. The game was well within reach, but a missed steal by Iverson and missed rebounds in the final minutes ultimately cost the Badgers the comeback.
Overall, the game was a two-way battle between Happ and Virginia’s redshirt sophomore De’Andre Hunter, who stuffed the box score in a very low-scoring affair. Happ secured a double-double for the sixth straight time this season, adding 22 points on 11-19 shooting with 15 rebounds and six assists. Hunter did an impressive job controlling the pace of the game, finishing with 20 points and nine rebounds to secure the victory for Virginia and give them the 2018 ‘Battle 4 Atlantis’ championship.
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The last four teams to win the annual ‘Battle 4 Atlantis’ tournament all went on to have impressive NCAA tournament runs at the end of the year. In 2014, Wisconsin was victorious and went on to be the NCAA Tournament runner-up. In 2015, Syracuse won and ended up advancing to the Final Four as a No. 10 seed. In 2016, after Baylor won, they made the NCAA tournament and won a pair of games advancing to the Sweet 16. Finally, last season the Villanova Wildcats took the ‘Battle 4 Atlantis’ and went on to be crowned national champions.
Happ and Trice were named to the 2018 ‘Battle 4 Atlantis’ all-tournament team after their performances this week in the Bahamas. Wisconsin improved to 5–1 on the season while picking up two resume-building wins against Stanford and Oklahoma.
The Badgers are back in action at the Kohl Center this Tuesday as they take on the North Carolina State Wolfpack.