Preview: Kennesaw State vs. No.15 Wisconsin

Picked to finish second in the Big Ten by the conference media, equaling the highest preseason ranking under 11th-year coach Bo Ryan, No.15 Wisconsin begins its 114th season of men's basketball by hosting Kennesaw State Saturday.

Kennesaw State (8-23, 6-14 Atlantic Sun) vs. No.15 Wisconsin (25-9, 13-5 Big Ten)

Date/Time - Saturday, November 12, 12 p.m. Central

Arena – Kohl Center (17,232)

Television - (TV replay Nov.15 at 1 p.m.)

Radio - Wisconsin Radio Network (Phil Dawson and Andy North)

Series – First Meeting

Last Meeting – First Meeting

Wisconsin Probable Starters

5 Ryan Evans (Junior Forward, 2.8 ppg)

11 Jordan Taylor (Senior Guard, 18.1 ppg)

21 Josh Gasser (Sophomore Guard, 5.9 ppg)

31 Mike Bruesewitz (Junior Forward, 4.6 ppg)

40 Jared Berggren (Junior Forward, 2.4 ppg)

Off the Bench

1 Ben Brust (Sophomore Guard, 0.7 ppg)

12 Traevon Jackson (Freshman Guard, 0.0 ppg)

30 Jarrod Uthoff (Freshman Forward, 0.0 ppg)

33 Rob Wilson (Senior Guard, 1.6 ppg)

Kennesaw State Probable Starters

2 Markeith Cummins (Junior Guard, 18.3 ppg)

3 Delbert Love (Freshman Guard, 0.0 ppg)

5 Spencer Dixon (Senior Guard, 13.1 ppg)

21 Aaron Anderson (Junior Forward, 6.5 ppg)

35 Brandon Dawson (Sophomore Forward, 2.7 ppg)

Off the Bench

4 Romain Henry (Senior Guard, 0.4 ppg)

11 Nick Turner (Sophomore Guard, 0.7 ppg)

Last Time Out

New Orleans (BN) -It was too little, too late. Wisconsin's 17-4 run cut the lead to four in the final minute was just a big tease, as the Badgers' energy and their season ended two victories short of the program's first Final Four since 2000, No. 8 Butler put an end to No. 4 Wisconsin's bid for its first Elite Eight since 2005 with a 61-54 victory Thursday night.

Far from Madison, the Badgers looked like a fish out of water, shooting an uncharacteristic 30.4 percent (17-of-56) from the floor on a night where Butler brought an aggressive man-to-man defense throughout.

"They're scrappy, relentless," said Taylor of Butler. "I mean, I don't know, they're tough kids. They never quit."

"He said it," echoed Jon Leuer. "They're just tough kids that are all-around good players, and they play to their strengths."

For the Badgers (25-9), it marked the final chapter in a season where Ryan's club – overachievers on his chart - went 13-5 in the Big Ten and landed tournament wins over Belmont (72-58) and Kansas State (70-65).

"We just needed to put a few more minutes together so we could keep dancing, but the music stopped playing," Ryan said.

Butler guard Shelvin Mack was the man that unplugged the radio for the final time, knocking down a fallback jumper with 55 seconds to play to give the Bulldogs a 55-49 lead – enough breathing room to outlast a Wisconsin team that surged back from no man's land to pull within four points with a minute left.

Down 33-24 at halftime, Ryan's halftime speech likely had a central them: knock down open shots. Then came the final 20 minutes, where the Badgers sputtering offense came to a screeching halt.

Mack's layup 11 seconds into the second frame got the scoring going, but Wisconsin wouldn't find their first bucket until the 14:03 mark, a scoring drought that allowed the Bulldogs to open up a 42-26 advantage.

When Bruesewitz finally hit a jumper to stop the bleeding, Ryan – pacing back and forth along the sidelines – tossed both hands in the air in a fitting "it's about time" moment.

If a first half where the Badgers shot 4-of-11 from three-point range and 8-of-23 overall was painful to watch, it wasn't long into the next frame before Badgers fans back in Wisconsin turned away from the television.

UW missed on 10 straight field goal attempts to open the half, finishing just 3-of-18 from three-point range and 9-of-33 from the floor.

Series Notes:

Wisconsin owns a perfect 3-0 all-time record vs. members of the Atlantic Sun (1-0 Belmont, 1-0 East Tennessee State, 1-0 Mercer).

Kennesaw State is 0-1 as a Division 1 school vs. members of the Big Ten (Losing to Minnesota on a neutral site in 2007).

Wisconsin Notes

Wisconsin won its 38th consecutive exhibition game with an 80-54 win over UW-Stevens Point last Saturday. UW had four players in double figures, including a team-high 16 points from Evans.

Wisconsin went 16-0 at the Kohl Center last season and has won 19 straight overall and 37 of the last 38. Bo Ryan is 152-11 (.933) at the Kohl Center.

Ryan enters the season with 242 wins at Wisconsin. He needs 24 wins to become Wisconsin's all-time winningest coach. Ryan trails only Hall of Famer's Bud Foster (265) and Walter Meanwell (246).

Kennesaw State Notes:

On Tuesday, April 26, 2011, Kennesaw State introduced Lewis Preston as the fourth head men's basketball coach in program history. Preston comes to Kennesaw from Penn State, where he spent three years on the coaching staff under Ed DeChellis. During his tenure in Happy Valley, Preston helped guide the Nittany Lions to levels of success the program had not seen in years, making their first NCAA Tournament appearance this past March for the first time since 2001 and winning the NIT Tournament during his first season on staff in 2008-09.

Kennesaw State lost three times to Belmont last season. Wisconsin beat Belmont, 72-58, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Cummings was named to the All-Atlantic Sun Conference Second Team last season. Cummings earns the recog¬nition for the second straight year.

The Owls victory over Georgia Tech on 11/15/10 was the second of six victories the A-Sun has had this season against teams in the "Power Six" Conferences.


Starting it's basketball program in 1985, Kennesaw State has slowly climbed through the NAIA and division 2 ranks to earn its opportunity to compete at the division 1 level starting in the 2005 season. It hasn't gone according to plan, as the Owls are 55-97 (.362) at college basketball highest level and are still looking for their first winning season.

Breaking down this matchup, two things come to mind. One, the Owls don't appear to have a lot of depth. In their 70-68 exhibition nail biter over West Georgia, Preston only went four deep on his bench, including just two players that played over seven minutes. That's a problem. Two, the tallest person in the rotation appears to be the 6-7 Cummins, meaning there are going to be a lot of smaller bodies banging in the post against Wisconsin's big men. Huge advantage there to Wisconsin.

Preston said after the game that his team needs to get better on the defensive end, another thing that doesn't bold well against a disciplined Wisconsin group. If the Badgers can contain Cummins – who is the team's best players and went 19 points, 8 rebounds in the exhibition game – and frustrate Dixon – who shot 2 of 15 from the field in the opener – the home team will cruise.

With an advantage in the post, an All-American point guard and the home domination UW has, the Badgers should open the season with a 33-point victory.

Worgull's 10-11 Record: 29-5

Points off Prediction: 233 (6.85 per game)

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