Wisconsin set for Challenge

The Badgers tip-off with Maryland at 8:30 CST

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What:  Wisconsin Badgers (3-0) at Maryland Terrapins (3-0)

When:  Tuesday, December 2, 2003, 8:30 p.m. CST

Site:  Comcast Center in College Park, MD

Broadcasts:  Nationally televised by ESPN2 (channel 23 in Madison) and regionally by Wisconsin Radio Network (WIBA-1310AM/101.5FM in Madison)

Series Notes: UW leads all-time series 3-1


Winning has not been pretty for No. 15 Wisconsin (3-0) as they get ready to participate in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge Tuesday night.  In the fifth annual get-together between the two conferences, the Badgers, 1-3 all-time in the Challenge, travel to Maryland to take on the also undefeated Terrapins (3-0).


The two teams meet for the first time since the 2002 NCAA tournament when Maryland defeated Wisconsin 87-57 in the second round en route to its national championship.


Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan's squad enters the game off a victory Saturday night at home versus Rutgers in which they shot poorly nearly the entire contest. However, the Badgers were propelled to a 55-43 win by their tough-nosed, aggressive defense, forcing a season-high 23 turnovers.


In a game of spurts, the Badgers, led by junior guard Devin Harris, went on a 10-2 run to finish the game. Harris finished with 18 points and five assists.  


Also producing for UW were junior forwards Mike Wilkinson and Zach Morley. The tandem finished with 16 points, 11 rebounds and four assists in the game.


With the Terrapins up next for the Badgers, the team must prepare to battle one of the nation's top programs in the past 10 years.


"With Gary Williams you're playing against the system, no matter where he would be coaching, his teams would play the same way," Ryan said. "So, you're playing a program that has been successful, knows how to get it done and hopefully our guys will remember some of the things carried over from years past, that they remember how to get things done, and it will be two forces going against one another and that's the kind of game you want."


Regarded as a year of rebuilding, the Terrapins have started the season with three straight home wins for an incredible 16th straight season. The latest victory came Saturday versus Hofstra, 87-72. Coach Gary Williams has prepared his young squad well for the beginning of the 2003 campaign, but face their toughest competition yet in the Badgers.


With only one senior on the roster, the Terrapins feature a squad of a combined nine freshmen and sophomores and three juniors.


Regardless of age, the Terrapins have gotten good play from a variety of players. Sophomore forward Nik Caner-Medley leads the team with 17 points per game, well above his five point average from last year. In addition, senior forward Jamar Smith has averaged 14 points and 11 boards a night in his first year as a starter.


"Every player knows its Maryland, they're a good program," Ryan adds.  "We're playing teams that have had great recruiting years, teams that have had great athletes and if we don't come ready to go it's going to be a long night. Maryland can make it a long night for people."


Three Keys to victory for UW

  1. Charity stripe – Free throws continue to be the Badgers' savior amid the horrid shooting. Outscoring their opponents 69-18 from the line already this season, the Badgers are 16-2 under coach Ryan when attempting at least 25 free throws.


  1. Pouring it on – When the jumpers aren't falling, the Badgers have found other ways to score in their victories this year. Against the Terrapins, not only is UW going to have to find the jumper, but also they'll need to find all the different ways to score and do it often. The Badgers are 26-1 under Ryan when scoring more than 70 points and its something they've done only once thus far this season.


  1. Grand Theft Harris – The Big Ten's leader in steals a season ago has gotten off to a strong start this season, averaging about three steals per game. His aggressiveness and ability to get to the ball will be a huge asset for UW in dictating the game with its defense.


Three Keys to victory for Maryland

1.      Turnovers – As good as UW is at forcing turnovers, while protecting the basketball themselves, as are the Terrapins. Maryland leads the ACC with a  plus-nine turnover margin and they'll need to maintain this positive ratio to defeat the visitors.


2.      Block Party – Tied for the ACC lead in blocks per game with 8.67, the Terrapins are swatting shot attempts left and right and wreaking havoc for opposing offenses. More defense like this will be a step in the right direction for this young team.


3.      Hittin' the glass – Lone senior Jamar Smith leads the ACC in offensive boards with six a game. His ability to give his team extra chances will be a huge key to victory.

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