Badgers set for ‘Bama visit

Wisconsin puts home winning streak on the line against ranked Alabama squad

Following its most impressive win of the season Monday night, the University of Wisconsin men's basketball team appears to have hit its stride just in time to wrap up the non-conference season.

Winners of their last three games, head coach Bo Ryan's bunch will close up a four-game homestand Wednesday night as the nationally-ranked University of Alabama enters town. It is the fourth-ever meeting between the two schools and the first in Madison since 1980.

The Badgers will be looking to exact a little revenge on the Crimson Tide after ‘Bama trounced UW 71-56 a year ago in Tuscaloosa. For Wisconsin, what better place is there for a rematch than the Kohl Center, where the Badgers have won a nation-best 35 in a row.

In the last three games (all home games), UW's opponents have averaged 46.3 points in the Kohl Center and in seven home games this season, the Badgers are allowing only 51.9 points on their home turf.

But, as much success as Wisconsin is having, head coach Mark Gottfried's squad will undoubtedly be a handful and the toughest match up of the year thus far for the Badgers.

Entering Madison on a roll, the Crimson Tide have won their last six games, including two on the road. With seven upperclassmen on the team, ‘Bama brings many of the same players that manhandled UW a year ago into tonight's game.

As a team, Alabama comes into the game averaging 86.5 points per contest. Senior Earnest Shelton co-leads the SEC in scoring with 19.0 points per contest and is one of three players on Alabama averaging 16 points or better per game. One of the others is junior Chuck Davis (16.6 points per game), who combined with Shelton to score 41 points in last year's meeting. Davis also led the ‘Bama charge on the glass, nabbing a team-high seven rebounds in the 15-point win.

This season, Davis is second on the team in rebounding, averaging 8.0 boards per contest and expects to be a tough match-up for the UW in the post. As a group, the Crimson Tide are dominating opponents on the glass this season, posting 41.5 rebounds per game. For a Wisconsin team that has grabbed over 50 rebounds in its last two games, ‘Bama will be the best rebounding team they will have faced. For two teams that predicate themselves on out-hustling opponents, getting loose balls and grabbing any and all rebounds, the team that controls the glass will gain a major edge in the contest.

More than just a final tune up for the start of the conference season, Wednesday night's game will be an early indicator of how this Badger team measure up to one of the nation's best. Having its shortest layoff period in between games so far this season, UW had just one practice in preparation for its match up with ‘Bama.

That being said, Wisconsin's depth will be really tested on the night and fortunate for them, it will be the first time all season that all 15 members of the team are expected to suit up.

Who: No. 18 Alabama (10-1) at Wisconsin (8-2)
When: Wednesday, December 28, 2004, 6:30 p.m.
Where: Kohl Center (17,142), Madison, Wis.
Broadcast: The game will be televised nationally by ESPN2 (Ch. 23 in Madison). It can be also heard live on the 46-city Wisconsin Radio Network.


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