Preview: Buffalo vs. No.6 Wisconsin

Putting together another outstanding nonconference schedule, No.6 Wisconsin looks to add another important RPI win resume when it hosts Buffalo tonight at the Kohl Center. BadgerNation breaks down the matchup.

Buffalo (7-2, 0-0 Mid-Atlantic) vs. No.6 Wisconsin (11-1, 0-0 Big Ten)

Date/Time -Sunday, December 28, 7 p.m. Central

Arena –Kohl Center (17,279)

Television -Big Ten Network

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

Series – First Meeting

Wisconsin Probable Starters

10 Nigel Hayes (6-8 Sophomore Forward, 12.2 ppg)

12 Traevon Jackson (6-3 Senior Guard, 9.1 ppg)

15 Sam Dekker (6-9 Junior Forward, 12.0 ppg)

21 Josh Gasser (6-4 Senior Guard, 7.2 ppg)

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

Off the Bench

3 Zak Showalter (6-2 Sophomore Guard, 3.1 ppg)

13 Duje Dukan (6-10 Senior Forward, 6.5 ppg)

24 Bronson Koenig (6-4 Sophomore Guard, 4.8 ppg)

30 Vitto Brown (6-8 Sophomore Guard, 4.0 ppg)

Buffalo Probable Starters

1 Lamonte Bearden (6-3 Freshman Guard 9.0 ppg)

2 Will Regan (6-8 Senior Forward, 6.7 ppg)

10 Jarryn Skeete (6-3 Junior Guard, 10.3 ppg)

11 Shannon Evans (6-1 Sophomore Guard, 14.8 ppg)

23 Justin Moss (6-7 Junior Forward, 17.3 ppg)

Off the Bench

20 Rodell Wigginton (6-5 Junior Forward, 6.9 ppg)

31 Raheem Johnson (6-10 Junior Forward, 2.7 ppg)

35 Xavier Ford (6-7 Senior Forward, 5.7 ppg)

Last Time Out

BERKELEY, Calif. - Sophomore Nigel Hayes registered a double-double (17 points, 13 rebounds) and Wisconsin’s frontcourt did the damage to help the Badgers add another impressive victory to its resume with a 68-56 victory over California at Haas Pavilion on Monday.

It’s the third true road victory for Wisconsin (11-1) and the sixth away from the Kohl Center this season, an impressive achievement for a team that has become quite comfortable winning away from home. Over the last two seasons, Wisconsin is 22-5 (.814) away from home, the most wins among major conference teams.

And this one on paper didn’t appear to be a walk in the park. Wisconsin had never won in Berkeley (0-3 entering the game) and rarely strayed far from home in the first game following finals. The Badgers hadn’t played their game away from campus following exams since 2003-04, hadn’t played a West Coast game immediately after finals since 1989 and hadn’t played a true West Coast road game since 2004.

None of that proved to be a problem thanks to Badger bigs Hayes, Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker, as the trio were the only three UW players to finish in double figures, combined for 45 points and secured 27 of UW’s 39 team rebounds.

It was a workmanlike win and Hayes was one of the toughest workers, finishing with his third double-double on the season while going 5-for-5 from the free throw line and committing only one turnover.

Shooting 43.6 percent for the game, Wisconsin shot 44.4 percent in the first half and shook off a 2-for-10 start to exert its will when California (10-2) started to press. Following a 6-0 Bears run to cut the lead to 17-16, Wisconsin closed the half with a 15-4 run over the final 7:10 complete with aggressive drives to the basket, getting to the free throw line and Josh Gasser diving on the floor multiple times for loose balls.

Five different players scored on the run, including a beautiful give-and-go between Hayes and Duje Dukan that ended with Dukan making an acrobatic layup and drew a foul for a three-point play.

For the game Wisconsin made 17 of 18 free throws (94.4 percent), committed only six turnovers and scored 32 points in the paint.

Sixteen of California’s 20 first-half points came from the paint, but the Badgers shutdown the paint in the second half (12) and made leading scorer Tyrone Wallace work for his points.

Wallace ended up scoring 17 points (but needed 16 shots to get there), and Jordan Mathews, who entered the game averaging 13 points, scored 15 in the final 12:28, including 11 in a row at one point. But the Badgers cut off the rest of Cal’s weapons, allowing them to dictate tempo and continued to build sizeable leads in the second half.

Mathews tried to pull Cal back into the game when he orchestrated an 11-2 run to cut the Wisconsin leads to 44-36. Traevon Jackson promptly found Kaminsky open for 3-points at the top of the key, Dekker following with a jumper and Hayes canceled out a pair of Mathews free throws with a pretty up-and-under player that resulted in a 3-point play, giving UW a 52-38 lead with 7:52 remaining.

UW never trailed by less than 12 the rest of the game.

-BadgerNation.com

Series Notes

Wisconsin is 40-12 against teams from the Mid-American conference. In the last meeting against the conference, the Badgers beat Bowling Green, 88-64, at home last November.

Wisconsin Notes

Wisconsin has opened the season 11-1 or better for the 3rd time under Bo Ryan. The Badgers are out-scoring foes by an average of 21.9 ppg.

In addition to tough D, UW doesn’t foul (3rd in the nation at 13.8 fouls per game), doesn’t turn it over (2nd in NCAA with 8.7 TOs per game) and controls the glass (+8.4 rebounding margin is 2nd in Big Ten).

The Badgers have also won 50 consecutive regular-season, non-conference games against unranked teams. The last time UW lost to a team that was not ranked in the AP poll was a 58-51 defeat to Notre Dame at the 2010 Old Spice Classic (11/28/10).

Ryan’s teams are 86-2 (.977) at the Kohl Center against teams outside of the six major conferences, including a streak of 59 straight wins. UW’s only two home losses under Ryan against non-major teams are a 62-55 loss to North Dakota State in 2006 and a 70-67 overtime defeat to Temple in 2001, Ryan’s first season.

Wisconsin has racked up seven double-doubles this season, already matching the team’s total from a year ago. Frank Kaminsky and Nigel Hayes rank first and second in the Big Ten, tallying 4 and 3 double-doubles, respectively.

Buffalo Notes

For the second time this season, Buffalo had two 20-points scorers in the same game, the first time the Bulls had two games with two 20-point scorers since the 2011- 12 season.

Moss leads the MAC in scoring (17.3) and rebounding (10.2). Moss has already surpassed his numbers from last season, his first in a UB uniform.

The Bulls recorded a season-high 19 assists in their win over Drexel. The performance was led by sophomore Shannon Evans and freshman Lamonte Bearden, who each had eight assists in the game.

The Bulls played six straight games on the road following their season opener this year, traveling over 7,800 miles since hosting South Dakota State in the home opener on Nov. 14. UB went 4-2 on the road trip with its only losses coming at top-ranked and undefeated Kentucky and one-loss St. Bonaventure. The four true road wins by the Bulls are currently tied for second most in the nation.

Freshman Lamonte Bearden became the first UB freshman to start the season opener for the Bulls since the 2005-06 and he didn’t disappoint, dishing out six assists in his first collegiate action. More importantly, Bearden was credited with just one turnover in the game.

Prediction

A year ago Wisconsin had one of the most sparkling resumes in the nation entering conference play. The Badgers were the first team in the nation to reach 12 wins and have gone 12-0 against teams with a combined record of 92-37 (.713) in all other games.

Pushing for a No.1 seed in the NCAA tournament field, Wisconsin already owned four wins over the RPI top 50 and 7 wins over the RPI top 100, owning the most RPI top-100 wins in the nation, pretty impressive for a young team that played the seven-toughest schedule in the country and won five road/neutral games.

Wisconsin’s veteran group this year doesn’t appear to have the signature nonconference wins as last year’s group (No.11 Florida, at Virginia, vs. St. Louis), but looks can be deceiving.

Although UW hasn’t registered a win over a team ranked in the top 25 at the time of the meeting (Oklahoma is since up to No.19), the Badgers own six RPI top-100 wins, tied for the highest-such win total in the nation. UW has beaten Green Bay (32), Oklahoma (34), Boise State (39), Georgetown (57), Cal (69) and Marquette (94) and the record of its nonconference opponents in games not against Wisconsin are 90-42 (.682). These numbers are as of Friday.

And while they don’t have the lofty ranking or the name recognition, a win by Wisconsin over Buffalo (30) would give the Badgers their biggest RPI victory over the season. In other words, this isn’t your traditional cupcake to wrap up nonconference play, as the Bulls have three players average in double figures, shoot over 42 percent from the field and are limiting opponents to less than 40 percent shooting.

According to Ken Pomeroy’s efficiency rankings, the Badgers are fourth in the nation in adjusted offense (116.0) and seventh in defense (88.4). UW is one of three teams to rank among the top 10 in both categories (Kentucky, Virginia), not too shabby considering the schedule and playing six games away from home.

Now the Bulls will test Wisconsin on both ends of the floor. Comfortable on the road, the Bulls have four true road victory to UW’s three and have already played at Kentucky this season, so big environments won’t be intimidating.

Researching the Bulls reminded me a lot of researching California. Both teams have a lot of talent, but lack sufficient size in the low post. That led to the Badgers scoring 32 points in the post, grabbing 39 rebounds (eight offensive) and Dekker, Hayes and Kaminsky scoring 45 of UW’s 68 points. I would expect a similar result here, as well. UW enters Big Ten play off a 15-point win.

Worgull's Record: 11-1

Points off Prediction: 85 (7.1 per game)


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