The first of the two games is Tuesday at 7 p.m. as the University of California-Santa Barbara (1-0) comes to the Kohl Center for what will be the first ever match-up between the Badgers and the Gauchos.
The Gauchos, representing the Big West Conference, enter Tuesday's game off an improbable 80-72 overtime win over San Diego State, and for the second game in a row will only have nine men suited up for action.
With two starters out, the Gauchos will rely heavily on the productivity of junior Josh Davis, the reigning Big West Conference Player of the Week. Davis dropped in a career-high 18 points, hitting 4 of 5 from three-point range, and nabbed four steals in the win over the Aztecs, but played a more important role in racking minutes at three different positions within head coach Bob Williams' rotation—shooting guard, small forward and power forward.
Combined with senior forward Casey Cook, the team's leading returning scorer from last season (9.9 points per game), UC-Santa Barbara poses a tough inside-out combo, one area defensively the Badgers will look to control.
"They have a pretty good post player who can score in a variety of ways and their guards seem to shoot the ball pretty well," UW senior guard Clayton Hanson said. "So it'll be another battle with us sticking to our rules, handling screens and being able to play defense as a unit."
Even though many Gauchos will be seeing extensive playing time for the first time in their college careers, the Badgers will not concentrate their energy on containing one or two players but focus on every Gaucho on the court.
"With the system we have instilled right now, we aren't playing defense one guy on one guy, we're playing five guys versus the other team," Hanson said. "We know each player's strength and weakness, but at this level, any player is capable of scoring points and taking over a game."
"Any given team can get beat you on any given night, and we just have to come out and play Badger basketball, try to stay with our principles and don't get away from that," junior guard Ray Nixon said.
One of the team principles the UW squad will have to improve upon is better ball control after suffering 16 turnovers versus Penn in the season opener. UC-Santa Barbara tallied 13 steals versus San Diego State.
For the Badgers, their success is contingent on maintaining the flow of the game from the start and dictating possessions by either their motion offense or stifling defense—something they did extremely well versus the Quakers. In that game, UW shot 51.1 percent from the field (57.1 percent from beyond the arc) and scored 15 points off turnovers to Penn's five. So for UW, the game will come down to attacking the Gauchos' defense, early, often and at all different fronts.
"They don't beat themselves defensively," UW head coach Bo Ryan said. "They play some zone. They play some man. It's sound. The best way to describe them is sound."
Who: University of California-Santa Barbara (1-0) at Wisconsin (1-0)
When: Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2004, 7 p.m.
Where: Kohl Center (17,142), Madison, Wis.
Broadcast: The game will be broadcast on the 46-city Wisconsin Radio Network. WIBA-AM (1310) will broadcast the game in Madison.
Series notes: This is the first meeting between the two schools.