Pence's Quick Thoughts
This one won't be the most beautiful game to watch at times, but you'll see two similar attacks with patience key on offense and an emphasis on defense. Check out the preview below from From Old Virginia for more.
Date/Time: Wednesday, November 28; 7:00
Record against the Badgers: 1-1
Last meeting: UW 66, UVA 56; 11/21/98, Fairbanks, AK
Last game: UVA 80, UNT 64 (11/20); UW 77, Ark. 70 (11/24)
UVA: 60.2 (#345)
UW: 61.4 (#340)
UVA: 103.7 (#103)
UW: 114.5 (#9)
UVA: 91.0 (#27)
UW: 90.0 (#21)
UVA: .7919 (#54)
UW: .9222 (#10)
Projected starting lineups:
PG: Jontel Evans (0.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 0.0 apg)
SG: Paul Jesperson (4.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2.5 apg)
SF: Joe Harris (15.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.8 apg)
PF: Akil Mitchell (11.7 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 1.5 apg)
PF: Darion Atkins (6.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 0.7 apg)
PG: George Marshall (7.3 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 1.5 apg)
SG: Ben Brust (11.8 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 2.2 apg)
SF: Ryan Evans (10.5 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.2 apg)
PF: Mike Bruesewitz (6.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.3 apg)
C: Jared Berggren (15.2 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 1.3 apg)
The ACC/B1G Challenge is one of the best parts of basketball season, so it's no surprise Jim Delany is doing his damndest to ruin that, too. Lord knows what the future of this excellent mini-tournament is, but for now at least, we can still enjoy a traditional ACC team, in the ACC, playing a traditional Big Ten one, in the way God intended.
As a team that needs to work its way up to the bubble, let alone into the tournament, UVA faces what you could call a must-win in Madison. It's up for debate whether UVA would have made the NCAA tourney last year without a huge win over eventual-three-seed Michigan. On the road, against one of the many formidable teams the Big Ten offers, we have a similar opportunity, but a much tougher one.
-- UVA on offense
Though he's only seen 13.3 minutes a game, Mike Tobey might well get a start and some serious minutes against Wisconsin. That's because the number one challenge UVA's offense faces is the likelihood of seeing at least one tree on the court at all times. Center Jared Berggren is one of those matchup boogeymen who, on the defense end, is averaging two and a half blocks a game. Four of his fifteen blocks were against Arkansas, so we're not talking about someone who just beats up on tiny teams from the Southland Conference. Berggren is six-foot-ten, legit, and will spend a lot of time on the court occupying space in the middle and making it very difficult for the Hoos to score inside.
The other really big guy Wisconsin has is Frank Kaminsky, off the bench at 6'11". Wisconsin lists him as a forward, though, and he's started two games alongside Berggren to give the Badgers two tall guys inside. Kaminsky played a very limited role last year as a freshman, which is only being slowly expanded (only 12 minutes a game) so despite his height he's not a major obstacle.
System-wise, UVA will be facing something very familiar: stifling, clogging, intended to limit shots ... this is no surprise, as Tony Bennett once worked under Bo Ryan at Wisconsin as a holdover from his dad's staff. Ryan used a lot of Dick Bennett's principles, and so does Tony. The question is how well Wisconsin will execute that system; Grantland broke down their game against Florida and pointed out a number of defensive breakdowns, coming to the conclusion that they miss Josh Gasser (their starting point guard, out for the season with a torn ACL) more than you might guess. The problem is that we don't have Florida's athleticism to take advantage. And since then, Wisconsin has successfully shut down much of their opposition, holding three teams under 50 points.
So it's more likely than not that UVA will find the going tough. The interior will only be available in fits and starts, so the shooting has to be there. If the Hoos can force switches, it may be that Wisconsin's help defense breaks down for some backdoor stuff as it did against Florida, but Ryan is one of the country's better coaches so it's a safer bet that UVA will find the going as tough as they try to make it on everyone else.
-- UVA on defense
Yeah, we're going to have to start with Berggren again. Berggren sports an astounding O-rating of 139.9. He's a terrific free-throw shooter, and if you don't pay attention, he'll shoot threes too. Even with Tobey on the court, UVA will likely have no answer for Berggren on defense other than to collapse aggressively and force him to return the ball to the outside. Even that might not work.
The other two main offensive threats are shooting guard Ben Brust, and freshman forward Sam Dekker, who comes off the bench. Brust is a smallish guard with a deadly three point shot; Dekker can also knock 'em down, and is shooting .532 overall. The fourth Badger scorer in double digits is Ryan Evans, but his O-rating is a measly 89.9, which is to say he's probably hurting more than he's helping. Evans has always been a volume scorer, and is the kind of player who shoots threes and shouldn't.
Where UVA will have its biggest advantage in the game is at the point guard matchup. Jontel Evans - yes, he'll play - will find some fresh meat in redshirt freshman George Marshall, who is much less of a participant in the offense than a point guard normally is. If Evans can hound Marshall into a few turnovers, or even just into losing a little confidence, Wisconsin will be forced to make Brust handle the ball more, where he's not as comfortable.
The second advantage: Size. Even though Berggren exists, UVA will otherwise have a slight size advantage, which will be more useful on this end than the other. Wisconsin, for the most part, lacks players in the mid-big range from 6'7"-6'9", with only sixth-man Dekker fitting that bill. The 6'6" Jesperson guarding 6'1" Brust is one of those mismatches, and Brust is not athletic enough to run waterbug circles around Pauly J. With a lengthy lineup on the court that might include Akil Mitchell, Darion Atkins, or Evan Nolte, the Hoos have a chance to frustrate Wisconsin with size and the pack-line.
However, with sharpshooters like Brust and Dekker running around, UVA must be sure not to allow themselves to be sucked in too deep. Wisconsin forces you to pick your poison between Berggren and their shooters, and playing too hard on one will let the other run amok. That's a tricky balancing act. Wisconsin forces you to try and win individual matchups, and with a guy like Berggren, they will have an ace in the hole before they even start.
UVA has a few avenues it can use to engineer the upset, namely Evans's defense, and perhaps, offensive combinations, like Evans playing with some of these very talented freshman, that Wisconsin can't have scouted because they haven't happened. But we're up against a much more established version of our own program. Look five years into UVA's future and you just might see present-day Wisconsin. And while defense is Wisconsin's calling card, they can excel on the offensive end.
Naturally, the joke is that the game will probably end up 35-33, given the tempo-choking paces both these teams are known for. Not falling in a hole early is vital for both teams, obviously. KenPom gives UVA about a 15% chance of winning, which I think is about right. It wouldn't be an earth-rattling upset, but the Hoos have an uphill climb.
Final score: UW 56, UVA 51
Stuff went down today, and I meant to have a section right here to blab about it, but stuff got so big that it's post-worthy all by itself. Tomorrow, then. Coaching staff upheavals and conference upheavals all to be included.
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