Preview: Bradley vs. No.11 Wisconsin

After blowing past its first four opponents, No.11 Wisconsin heads to the road for the first time, taking on the Bradley Braves in the semifinals of the Chicago Invitational Challenge at Hoffman Estates, Illinois.

Bradley (3-1, 0-0 Missouri Valley) vs. No.11 Wisconsin (4-0, 0-0 Big Ten)

Date/Time - Friday, November 25, 7:30 p.m. Central

Arena – Sears Center (9,700)

Television - Big Ten Network Web Stream (Brian Anderson and Eddie Johnson)

Radio - Wisconsin Radio Network (Matt Lepay and Mike Lucas)

Series – Tied 2-2 (UW leads 1-0 on neutral court)

Last Meeting – Wisconsin won, 63-57, on Nov.26, 1989 in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Wisconsin Probable Starters

5 Ryan Evans (Junior Forward, 9.8 ppg)

11 Jordan Taylor (Senior Guard, 8.3 ppg)

21 Josh Gasser (Sophomore Guard, 10.8 ppg)

31 Mike Bruesewitz (Junior Forward, 7.5 ppg)

40 Jared Berggren (Junior Forward, 13.5 ppg)

Off the Bench

1 Ben Brust (Sophomore Guard, 13.0 ppg)

12 Traevon Jackson (Freshman Guard, 1.5 ppg)

33 Rob Wilson (Senior Guard, 4.0 ppg)

44 Frank Kaminsky (Freshman Forward, 4.5 ppg)

Bradley Probable Starters

1 Dyricus Simms-Edwards (Junior Guard, 16.5 ppg)

3 Taylor Brown (Senior Forward, 18.0 ppg)

23 Shayok Shayok (Freshman Forward, 2.8 ppg)

25 Walt Lemon (Sophomore Guard, 11.0 ppg)

44 Jordan Prosser (Sophomore Center, 11.0 ppg)

Off the Bench

4 Jake Eastman (Junior Guard, 7.0 ppg)

41 Anthony Thompson (Senior Center, 2.3 ppg)

Last Time Out

For the first time since the 1940-41 season, Wisconsin held its first four opponents under 40 points, outscoring the competition 299-to-136 (an average of 74.8-to-34.0), shooting 50.9 percent from the floor and allowing opponents to shoot just 20.8 percent from the field.

The defensive numbers are stifling due in part to the level of competition UW has faced and the principles that Ryan preaches, but the offensive numbers are gaudy because of the Badgers' continue hot shooting from the perimeter.

Wisconsin shot 51.7 percent (30-for-58) overall - 16-for-24 (64 percent) in the opening 20 minutes - and overwhelmed the Kangeroos (1-4) with crisp, clean ball movement that led to wide-open 3-pointers.

Of Wisconsin's first 16 buckets, nine had an assist to them, eight of which were 3-pointers.

The hot shooting from the perimeter was continued by Josh Gasser and UW. Hitting two of his three 3-pointers, Gasser has made 11-for-13 3-pointers on the season and the shooting was contagious, as six different players made at least one 3-pointer.

Of the barrage, senior Jordan Taylor scored 9 points and had a 6-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio and freshman Frank Kaminsky added nine points and three rebounds in just nine minutes

"When they go in, it's a thing of beauty, isn't it?" Ryan said of the 3-point shooting. "Those were the open shots. Again, you have to take what the defense gives you." Entering the game, Wisconsin was shooting a Big Ten-best 47.9 percent from 3-point range and averaging 11.3 made 3-points per game. At halftime, Wisconsin hit eight of its 13 threes and jump started key sequences.

Series Notes:

Wisconsin is 10-10 all-time vs. teams in the Missouri Valley Conference, with the most recent match up coming in a 66-64 loss to Missouri State in the 2006 South Padre Invitational.

Ben Brust's brother, Stephen, played soccer at Bradley from 2004-07. Stephen scored the game-winning or tying goal in three consecutive games as part of Bradley's run to the 2007 NCAA Tournament Elite Eight.

Bradley's last game against a Big Ten Conference school resulted in a 72-68 win against then #20 Illinois in the final round of the 2009 Las Vegas Invitational.

Though separated by only 203 miles, Bradley and Wisconsin will be meeting for just the fifth time on the men's basketball court, partially due to Wisconsin's long-standing policy to refrain from playing non-conference games against schools with Native American mascots and nicknames. In 1994, Bradley did away with all direct references to Native Americans, including the use of a mascot, and was removed from the NCAA list of schools with "hostile and abusive" nicknames in 2006.

Friday's game will be Bradley's 146th all-time against a nationally-ranked opponent and the Braves are 52-93 in the previous 145 games, the most-recent win a 68-59 victory against #18/19 UNI Feb. 13, 2010 at Carver Arena.

The Braves are 13-18 against Top 25 teams on neutral floors, including a 5-12 record against the top 11.

Wisconsin Notes

The Badgers are shooting a Big Ten-best 48.0 percent from 3-point range on the season, draining 47-of-98 shots from downtown. That shooting percentage ranks 6th in the nation.

After shooting 43 percent from 3-point range (7th in Big Ten) a year ago, Taylor has picked up where he left off. In 2011-12, Taylor ranks 6th in the Big Ten shooting 50.0 percent (5-for-10) from 3-point range.

Dating back to last season, the Badgers have won 23 consecutive games at the Kohl Center, and 41 of their last 42. During Wisconsin's current home win streak it has out-scored opponents by 519 points, an average of 22.6 points per game.

Bradley Notes:

Geno Ford is in his first year as Bradley's 13th head coach and inherited a team that managed a 12-20 (.375) overall record in 2010-11 and tied for ninth in the Missouri Valley Conference with a 4-14 (.222) league record. Bradley's last four head coaches have averaged just 11.3 wins in their respective inaugural seasons with the Braves.

Senior Taylor Brown has shown little sign of rust after missing the entire 2010-11 season due to cardiac evaluation. Brown was the captain of the 2010 Missouri Valley Conference Most Improved Team after averaging 13.5 points and a team-best 6.9 rebounds per game. Through four games, Brown is leading the Braves in scoring at 18.0 ppg on 50.0 percent shooting from the field, while also averaging 8.8 rpg.

Bradley will play a second Big Ten opponent next month when the Braves visit Michigan Dec. 22 to start a 2-year, home-and-home series. Michigan head coach John Beilein is the father of Bradley Director of Operations Patrick Beilein.

Through the first four games, Bradley is playing excellent free throw defense. Not only have the Braves sent the opposition to the charity stripe just 63 times in four games (15.8 FTA/gm), the four opponents have combined to shoot just 49.2 percent (31-63) from the line. Though shooting only 63.4 percent from the line themselves, the Braves have outscored the opposition by 33 points from the line while averaging 25.3 FTA/game.


For the fourth time in five games, Wisconsin will be playing a team that finished with a sub.500 record last season and for the third time, will be playing a team with a first-year coach.

Surprising to most, Bradley has a rich basketball tradition for a mid-major conference. Playing its 108th season, the Braves rank 26th in NCAA Division I men's basketball history with 1,568 all-time victories. Bradley also ranks second in the history of the Missouri Valley conference with 514 league victories, a reason the Braves have won nine league titles, have made eight NCAA Tournaments, two Final Fours and four NIT championships since 1950.

Although the Braves boast nine returning lettermen, Bradley has struggled out of the gates while trying to replace two of its top three scorers. Opening the season by playing six games in 14 days, including its first four games at home in a 10 day span, the Braves have struggled against common UW opponents, only beating UMKC by 10 and losing by four at home against Wofford on Tuesday.

The difference in that game was twofold. First thing was the Braves' poor shooting, making just 38.7 percent of its shots and saw the conference's field goal percentage leader – center Jordan Prosser – shoot 0-for-8 from the floor.

The other part was Wofford finding its game. After shooting only 28.5 percent in a 36-point loss to Wisconsin, the Terriers knocked down 10 3-pointers, out rebounded Bradley 45-46 and saw senior guard Kevin Giltner (who was held to 4-for-9 shooting vs. UW) lead all scorers with 29 points.

Through four games, the Badgers are outscoring opponents by a wider margin than UW foes are even scoring per game. UW has won by an average of 40.8 points per game and is allowing a mere 34.0 points per game.

Wisconsin has made 34 3-pointers on the season while Bradley has made only 14, shooting just 25.5 percent from 3-point range through four games. Curiously, teams have challenged Bradley from the perimeter and haven't had much success, shooting only 29.3 percent (27-for-92). Of course, Bradley hasn't faced a team with the size and strength of a Wisconsin.

I planned on picking UW to win early on. Then I saw the Bradley loss to Wofford. Now, I plan on picking an even bigger blowout. Using their success from the perimeter and their size inside, I can see the Badgers winning tonight by a cool 29 points.

Worgull's Record: 4-0

Points off Prediction: 47 (11.75 per game)

Badger Nation Top Stories