The Badgers will continue their annual tour of the state of Wisconsin on Wednesday night as they take on the Green Bay Phoenix at the Kohl Center. They'll be hoping it's a better experience then their previous in-state game, that's for sure. Wisconsin's game against the Phoenix starts a four game homestand that ends non-conference play and begins Big Ten action. The game against GB will air at 8pm Central on the Big Ten Network.
Wisconsin has owned this series as should be expected, leading 17-1 in the previous 18 meetings. The only loss the Badgers have suffered against the Phoenix came in Green Bay. Wisconsin is 15-0 in games played at the Kohl Center in this series. Overall under Bo Ryan the Badgers are 27-6 against the rest of the D1 foes in the state of Wisconsin.
Green Bay came into 2012-13 picked to finish 3rd in the preseason Horizon League coaches poll and sit at 3-5 on the year. It's safe to say this wasn't exactly the start the Phoenix were looking for as they've lost games to teams they should've beaten with what talent they have on paper. This will be the tail end of a three game road trip for GB and just like the Badgers they are coming off of a loss. The Phoenix lost to Tennessee Tech last Thursday.
On the court this team is lead by a dynamic duo in point guard Keifer Sykes and 7'1" center Alec Brown. Sykes leads the team in scoring (16.6ppg), three point shooting (41.7%), and he's tied for the team lead with 22 assists in just 8 games played for GB. Brown is averaging 11.3ppg and is shooting just 33.7% from the field on the year. Brown also has been in foul trouble, limiting his availablity to help the Phoenix, which has really hurt their ability to win games they should be winning.
Gren Bay also features one behemoth of a man up front in 6'9", 265lbs Brennan Cougill. Don't think he's just a wide body either as many times he's running the point from the top of the key in their offfense. Cougill is averaging 12.8 points per game, 2nd best on the team, has 22 assists, and has missed just 4 FT attempts all year (23-27).
This game is seriously a mirror image of what's been good and awful about both of these teams as both have struggled to hit from deep (GB is shooting 28% from 3pt range) and are also struggling to find consistent play at a guard spot. Although for Green Bay it's more of the two guard that's been giving them trouble than what's happening at the point. The X-factor in this one could be what happens between the struggling Ryan Evans and the confidence gaining Jordan Fouse of GB. Fouse is just a freshman, but he's started all 8 games and is a defensive dynamo - averaging 7.5 rebounds a game and blocking 11 shots in just those 8 games. He averages only 5 points per game but he's all hustle too, dishing out 15 assists and having 11 steals on the year so far.
As a team the Phoenix have a -1.6 scoring margin, averaging 68 points a game and giving up 69.6 points a game defensively.
Key to the Game:
Jared Berggren vs. Alec Brown - the matchup of the two biggest men starting on either side should tell you all you will need to know about this game as both players are really mirror images of each other. The only difference is that Brown's post moves aren't as developed as Berggren and Berggren can't handle the ball as well as Brown can.
Both of them are more than capable of stepping out around and behind the 3pt line to shoot from deep, thus dragging out defenders and both are athletic players that can block a ton of shots (both have 9 blocks this season). Whomever gets the advantage between these two and can stay out of foul trouble should win this one.
This is a game of two teams who do things differently but are working towards the same goal. They both have to make three point shots and do so with their bigs to be successful. They both have players that can slash to the basket (Sykes for GB, Dekker for UW). However, Wisconsin has the better talent on the court and they've proven they can beat some o.k. teams like Cal and Arkansas already this year. Green Bay can't be confident at all coming into this one and even if they are jacked up to play the Badgers it won't be enough to sustain them throughout the game. I expect this to be a very close game for awhile though before Wisconsin pulls away late.
Score: Wisconsin 77, Green Bay 68