Madison, Wi. — Finally, the University of Wisconsin Badgers (2-0) can take their training wheels off and get their season into full swing, taking on the Providence University Friars (2-0) on Monday night.
After destroying their opponents in their opening two non-conference games, the Badgers face their first real test of the season in the Friars.
The Friars struggled last season, finishing the season 13-13 — their worst record since 2012. Plagued by the combination of going up against the powerful Big East conference and only having six non-conference games — compared to 10 this year — the Friars were unable to earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament for the third straight season.
Similar to Brad Davison and the Badgers, Providence benefited greatly from the COVID-19 extra year of eligibility. Though last year’s leading scorer David Duke Jr. is now with the Brooklyn Nets, the Friars return eight of 12 in the 2021 season.
Opening their season against Fairfield University, the Friars did not come out as strong as everybody expected, narrowly escaping 80-73. Of course, Providence bounced back to win by 30 points just two days later, playing against Sacred Heart University.
Entering Monday’s game, the Badgers dominated in both non-conference games, using the games to work out any kinks in the Badgers rotation.
Johnny Davis has led the Badgers in scoring and minutes played. Greg Gard clearly sees Davis as the current leader of the team and No. 1 scoring option.
The Badgers look more in rhythm and in sync than the Friars do so far this season. Wisconsin’s young core will face a test versus the older, more experienced Friars roster which features five graduate students.
I expect Monday’s game to be a tight game throughout, though I predict the Badgers will close out the second half and pull away from the Friars.
Notes (via winsipedia.com and UW athletics):
- Wisconsin: won 23 consecutive non-conference home games.
- Providence: 3-1 all-time v. Wisconsin, last game was held in 1996.
- Wisconsin: looking to start 3-0 for the third time in four years.
- Providence: lost six straight games against Big Ten teams.
Spreads: Wisconsin -5.5, O/U130.0
Charlie – Wisconsin -5.5, U130
Ian – Wisconsin -5.5, O130
Charlie – Wisconsin over Providence 67-59
Ian – Wisconsin over Providence 75-63
Player of the Game:
Charlie – Steven Crowl
Ian – Tyler Wahl
Sleeper of the Game:
Charlie – Ben Carlson
Ian – Lorne Bowman