Breakdown: No.8 Wisconsin at Virginia

Looking to break a two game losing streak in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge while looking to improve its winning streak to nine, No.8 Wisconsin takes on a talented Virginia team on the road tonight at John Paul Jones Arena. Badger Nation breaks down the matchup.

No.8 Wisconsin (8-0, 0-0 Big Ten) at Virginia (7-1, 0-0 ACC)

Date/Time -Wednesday, December 4, 6 p.m. Central

Arena – John Paul Jones Arena (14,593)

Television -ESPN2 (Mike Patrick, Doris Burke and Jeff Goodman)

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

Series – Virginia leads 2-1 (First meeting in Charlottesville)

Last Meeting – Virginia won, 60-54, on November 18, 2012 in Madison

Wisconsin Probable Starters

1 Ben Brust (6-1 Senior Guard, 11.6 ppg)

12 Traevon Jackson (6-2 Junior Guard, 11.5 ppg)

15 Sam Dekker (6-8 Sophomore Forward, 14.6 ppg)

21 Josh Gasser (6-3 Junior Guard, 10.4 ppg)

44 Frank Kaminsky (7-0 Junior Forward, 15.8 ppg)

Off the Bench

3 George Marshall (5-11 Sophomore Guard, 2.0 ppg)

10 Nigel Hayes (6-7 Freshman Forward, 4.5 ppg)

13 Duje Dukan (6-9 Junior Forward, 4.5 ppg)

24 Bronson Koenig (6-3 Freshman Guard, 3.9 ppg)

Virginia Probable Starters

12 Joe Harris (6-6 Senior Guard, 12.4 ppg)

13 Anthony Gill (6-8 Sophomore Forward, 10.4 ppg)

15 Malcolm Brogdon (6-5 Sophomore Guard, 10.8 ppg)

23 London Perrantes (6-2 Freshman Guard, 2.8 ppg)

25 Akil Mitchell (6-8 Senior Forward, 6.0 ppg)

Off the Bench

1 Justin Anderson (6-6 Sophomore Guard, 8.5 ppg)

10 Mike Tobey (6-11 Sophomore Forward, 8.6 ppg)

11 Evan Nolte (6-8 Sophomore Forward, 3.6 ppg)

32 Darion Atkins (6-8 Junior Forward, 4.6 ppg)

Last Time Out

PUERTO AVENTURAS, Mexico – Sam Dekker scored a career-high 21 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for his first career double-double as No. 10 Wisconsin beat West Virginia 70-63 to win the Cancun Challenge championship at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya.

Winning for the sixth time in the last 12 days, Wisconsin (8-0) relied on Dekker throughout critical stretches. Trailing 11-10 early, Wisconsin went on a 20-2 that saw Dekker contribute part of his 10 points and eight rebounds. After West Virginia (5-2) cut the lead to four with 10:22 remaining, Dekker erupted for 11 points from the 6:39 mark to the 1:23 mark, building the lead back up to nine.

Dekker scored nine of UW's final 14 points - on three 3-pointers - over 4:48 to help Wisconsin break West Virginia's zone.

Wisconsin got 16 points from Brust, who shrugged off a 1-for-8 game in the 63-57 win over Saint Louis, 11 points from Josh Gasser and 10 from Frank Kaminsky. Traevon Jackson finished 1-for-9 from the floor, but went 4-for-5 from the free throw line and added 10 rebounds, seven assists and one turnover.

Wisconsin went 15-for-17 from the line a night after going 17-for-30, and won despite shooting 33.3 percent (7-for-21) in the second half and 40.7 percent (22-for-54) overall.

Last Meeting

In a game that featured similar programs, it was a late offensive surge, consistently good defense and junior guard Joe Harris scored a game-high 22 points to lead Virginia to a 60-54 upset over Wisconsin in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge Wednesday.

The loss is noteworthy on a number of aspects for Wisconsin (4-3). It's only the 16th home loss Wisconsin has suffered under Ryan in 12 years, only seven of which have come in nonconference play and just four against unranked foes.

Wisconsin's third loss in six games, however, had an all-too-familiar ring to it. Being out rebounded by 19 at Florida and giving up 13 offensive rebounds in the first-half to Creighton, Virginia grabbed 36 rebounds, including 10 off the double-double from Akil Mitchell, and limited Wisconsin to only 25.

"Those are just toughness plays we just didn't make tonight and have to get better at going forward," said senior forward Jared Berggren. "We just didn't execute as well as we needed to."

Akil Mitchell (11 points, 10 rebounds) and Darion Arkins (seven rebounds) also grabbed as many individual rebounds (18) as the six UW players who were credited with rebounds.

"(They) killed us," said UW coach Bo Ryan. "Those guys ought to get stars like we used to get in kindergarten when we did something right."

Wisconsin only gave up eight offensive rebounds, but all seemed to come at the most worst possible times, like when Harris grabbed his own miss, drew a foul from Mike Bruesewitz and converted a three-point play. Instead of Wisconsin cutting the lead back to signal digits, Virginia led by eight – its largest of the game – with 3:12 remaining.

Series Notes

This year's game will serve as a rematch of last year's Big Ten/ACC Challenge Contest.

Prior to last season's meeting, the last time Wisconsin and UVA met (1998), Dick Bennett, Tony Bennett's father, was the head coach at UW.

Dick Bennett was the head coach at UW for five-plus seasons from 1996 to 2000, while Tony served as an assistant coach on the Badgers' staff for three seasons (2001-03), including the final two under Bo Ryan.

Wisconsin has played in each of the previous 14 Big Ten/ACC Challenges, owning a record of 6-8 (.429). UW owns the second-most challenge wins among Big Ten teams, trailing only Illinois (7).

The Badgers are 42-39 all-time against the ACC, including wins in 6 of their last 8 games.

Wisconsin Notes

With his next win, Bo Ryan will win his 300th game at Wisconsin (299-113), becoming just the 9th coach to win 300 at a Big Ten school.

Sophomore Sam Dekker earned Cancun Challenge MVP honors after posting his first career double-double with 21 points and 12 rebounds in the championship game. A preseason Top-50 candidate for both the Wooden and Naismith Player of the Year awards, Dekker is averaging 14.6 points and 5.5 rebounds.

Being undefeated is nothing new to Bo Ryan, who coached a pair of undefeated national championship teams at Div. 3 UW-Platteville, going 31-0 in 1994-95 and 30-0 in 1997-98.

In Bo Ryan's 13 seasons, the Badgers have now spent a total of 29 weeks in the AP top-10, climbing as high as No. 1 on Feb. 19, 2007.

Since Bo Ryan was hired in 2001, Wisconsin has been the Big Ten's best road team, owning the most true road wins (68) and best road win percent- age (.507) in the conference.

Virginia Notes

The Cavaliers claimed the Corpus Christi Challenge title, their first tournament championship in the Tony Bennett era.

Virginia is 50-19 against non-conference opponents during Bennett's five seasons.

Virginia is 20-20 all-time vs. current Big Ten Conference opponents.

Virginia is the only ACC team to win in each of the last three ACC/Big Ten Challenges.

Virginia has made eight or more 3-pointers in each of its last four games, shooting 51.4 percent (36-of-70) from downtown during that span.

Prediction

Sam Dekker wouldn't say Saint Louis took him out of the Badgers semifinal game down in Cancun last week, but admitted he didn't play well in the Badgers' six-point win. Dekker attempted only six shots and was held under double digits for the first time this season, sparking what he calls "a little motivation" heading into the West Virginia game.

"I had to be a little more aggressive, not be so lazy in some ways," said Dekker. "I just went out there and competed and played hard."

Good things usually happen when those occur. Dekker is coming off his best game as a Badger, tallying career highs with 21 points and 12 rebounds in the championship game of the Cancun Challenge, earning tournament MVP honors in the process. After the game, associate head coach Greg Gard, who has watched Dekker play for years, said the super sophomore "grew up quite a bit."

"I think I am getting better and definitely getting better over the course of the season but I have to keep working at it just like every other aspect of my game," said Dekker. "Things may look good, things may look bad but I am always going to be working at it and I'm always going to be improving."

Wednesday night is another critical test for No.8 Wisconsin in its young season, taking on a Virginia team picked to finish fourth in the talented, and revamped, ACC, winners of its last three challenge games and a program who crushed Wisconsin on the glass in last year's victory at the Kohl Center.

Virginia won the rebounding battle, 36-25, last season because of Mitchell and Atkins, two players who have been essential to the Cavaliers six game winning streak. Both players, along with Tobey, are averaging over five rebounds a game. Virginia has outrebounded its opponents in seven of eight games. The Cavaliers also rank fourth nationally in rebound percentage at 58.9 percent and are enjoying a +13 average rebound margin and 11.9 offensive rebounds per game.

It's one of the reasons the importance of rebounding has been at the forefront of practice this week.

"Coach (Ryan) reminds us of that stuff," said Dekker. "Scouting report will say these guys killed you on the boards last year. For them to put that little seed in you, we have to outwork them this year. Whenever you can win the physical battle up front it's going to help you."

Dekker doesn't consider himself a physical player on the boards, at least not to the point where he's comfortable. Scoring has always been the easy part for Dekker, who is shooting 50 percent overall and 37.9 percent from the perimeter, but defense, posting up and crashing the glass were traits he didn't start picking up until later in high school.

Ryan sometimes calls Dekker "soft," a motivator to push Dekker in using his athleticism, strength and wingspan to crash the glass more often.

"I feel like I should have more double-digit rebound games like I did against West Virginia," said Dekker. "I can't accept getting four or five rebounds. I am too long and too active to have that happen. I've got to keep pressing the boards and crashing the glass. That helps offensive and defensively when I get those boards."

The Cavaliers are yielding 53.5 points per game, grabbing over 58 percent of the rebounds and has limited opponents to 37.2 percent shooting from the floor, so making the most of opportunities is critical for Wisconsin and Dekker, who is second on the team in scoring (14.6 points per game) and rebounds (5.5).

Virginia has won six consecutive games and is outscoring its foes by an average of 16.1 points. While the Cavaliers haven't registered any marquee wins on this stretch, Virginia did beat a previously-undefeated Missouri State squad, putting four players in double figures to win the Corpus Christi Challenge.

Virginia is very good at home and really good on the glass. UW could probably beat this team in March, but I am not sure the Badgers have enough experience right now to matchup. I'd be happy to be wrong, but I see Virginia winning by four.

Worgull's Record: 6-2

Points off Prediction: 68 (8.5 per game)


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