BuckyCap: Virginia Stifles Hot Badgers Offense
Virginia and Wisconsin are two similar teams. There’s a reason why Badgers fans clamored for Tony Bennett to take the Wisconsin job when Bo Ryan left the team a couple years ago. Bennett plays the type of style that reminds many fans of the Dick Bennett era when Tony’s father revived the Wisconsin Badgers basketball program. When these two teams play, the scoring is very light and the defense becomes very important. Every shot matters with Virginia. They grind you out, and it is a bitch to play against them (Very fascinated to see them versus Duke this year). Wisconsin struggled as Virginia put the clamps down defensively resulting in a 53-46 victory for the Cavaliers. After their depressing loss for the football team, the Hoos were able to provide some comfort on the court.
Player of the Game: Ethan Happ – What a performance from Happ. He did everything he could to beat Virginia. Happ finished the game with 22 points, 15 rebounds and six assists. Happ dominated the post even with Jack Salt occupying a shit ton of space in the middle. He played tremendously for Wisconsin. Sure, the turnovers were up, but this felt more like a 2017-2018 game where Happ had to do so many things for the team to them to win. Happ did his best. More I watch him this year, I think he can be a second-round NBA draft pick.
Silver Star: DeAndre Hunter – Yeah, he’s the real deal. When people say ‘Virginia would not have lost to UMBC if Hunter played in the game’, they’re 100 percent right. Hunter is a difference maker for Virginia, and he’s the type of player that could propel Virginia into the second weekend or beyond. He had 20 points, nine rebounds and played strongly down the stretch. Hunter made eight of the last 10 points for Virginia to finish off the game.
Positive: Wisconsin battled back – Give the Badgers a ton of credit for making this a game in the second half. They were down 15 points at halftime. Down 15 is a lead you can come back from against certain teams but Virginia? That’s damn near impossible. Good for Wisconsin for making it a basketball game and having a shot to win it late. That’s a good sign moving forward for this team.
Negative: You have to find Happ help – Yes, Happ can carry a team, but he can only do it so far. Happ needs that second banana. Virginia made it a point to let the Badgers power forward to go off and shut down everyone around him including D’Mitrik Trice. That was the guy who had two great games only to be put on ice yesterday. Not sure how you fix this sort of thing though. It’s not Gard’s fault, nor is it Happ’s fault.
Should Badgers fans feel better or worse? Usually, these tournaments tell you a lot about the team moving forward in the season. Badgers fans should feel great about their team this season. They’re playing pretty well and put up a solid fight against Virginia. Wisconsin looks like a team that will be a tournament team, and they could contend for the Big Ten title. It’s not out of the question.
Next up: Wisconsin heads home to play NC State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Tuesday night. Wolfpack are undefeated and play Mercer today yet they’re playing absolute cupcakes. Torin Dorn has been the leader for NC State, and the Wolfpack can shoot as they’re 40 percent from three to begin the year. We’ll see if they’re real or not come next Tuesday.