MADISON - When it comes to a scouting report on an unknown opponent, consider the fact that Wofford junior forward Noah Dahlman stepping foot on Wisconsin's campus more than once during the recruiting process a pretty good indicator that the kid can play.
Consider the fact that associate head coach Greg Gard watched him from his freshman and junior year when Dahlman was already well on his way to setting the Minnesota's all-time rebound record at Braham Area High, and know that the Badgers are going to be in for a tough match-up inside.
"He's found the right spot where he can grow," said Gard, who conducted the scouting report on the Terriers, who are located in Spartanburg, S.C., this year and two years ago when UW won 70-43 in Madison. "He got a lot of experience early, and he's a handful."
Handful doesn't do Dahlman justice, as fourth-seed Wisconsin (23-8) will find out Friday afternoon when it takes on Dahlman and No.13 seed Wofford (26-8) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Jacksonville, Florida.
Dahlman, the Southern Conference player of the year, has made 58 percent of his field-goal attempts, hasn't scored fewer than 10 points a game this season and is averaging a team-best 16.8 points per game. The junior also averages 6.3 rebounds per game and of his 214 rebounds, 113 have been on the offensive end, most of which come by out muscling his opponents to grab and put back his own miss.
"He's just got a motor," junior Keaton Nankivil said. "He knows how to get it done. Just having the mental toughness and the motor he has makes all the difference. It makes you constantly have to be in the right spot, because he's the kind of player that if you slip up for one second, he's going to take advantage."
Dahlman may command much of the attention, but the role players the Terriers surround him with do enough damage to make them balanced. Junior guard Cameron Rundles averages only 6.6 points per game, but he scored 20 points in Wofford's 56-51 victory over Appalachian State in the Southern Conference title game.
Wofford's other junior guard is Jamar Diggs, the team's second-leading scorer with 9.4 points per contest. Both Diggs and Rundles transferred to Wofford and played high school basketball, just like Dahlman, in Minnesota, meaning they were looked at by Gard at one time and share a lot of the same qualities as the four Minnesota-natives on Wisconsin's roster.
"Pretty athletic, powerful guys," Gard said of Diggs and Rundles. "People call them undersized, but they get a lot done, too. Johnson is attacking, spinning, gets a straight line to the rim and throws it down. They can step out and shoot threes but they don't have to because they can surround them with some other guys.
"It's kind of like watching us. You don't know who to pick out. They just find a way to get it done for Wofford."
Statistically and personnel wise, Wisconsin and Wofford look a lot a like. Both teams are well coached, value the basketball, are fundamentally sound on the basketball court and are accustomed to playing against bigger guys.
Both teams shoot an identical 44 percent from the field (although Wofford has attempted 178 more shots) and both pressure teams to take tough shots, a big reason the Badgers rank fourth in scoring defense (56.2) and the Terriers rank 29th (61.2)
Wofford, making its first NCAA appearance after becoming a Division 1 program in 1995, plays mostly man-to-man defense and averages just 1.9 points more per game offensively.
"The things we strive for in this program in getting us wins are the same things they strive for," Nankivil said.
Neither team is also afraid of a hostile environment. While the Badgers have won five games away from the Kohl Center, the Terriers have won 10 road games (including a victory at Georgia) and loss to Illinois, Michigan State and Pittsburgh by a combined 29 points.
The Terriers also defeated Purdue two years ago in West Lafayette, something the Badgers have done just once in the past 38 years, and also beat Cincinnati and Virginia Tech last year.
"We know they are a very good team," said senior Jason Bohannon. "Any team in the NCAA Tournament is going to play smart basketball because they want to move on as much as they can."
So will a liberal arts school of only 1,100 be fazed by the powerhouse at Wisconsin they'll see for the first time in three years Friday? Don't bet on it.
"You only need five (players), so it really doesn't matter," Gard said. "(They) won't be fazed at all by anything (they're) going to see against us. They get the most out of what they have.
"Three years ago, they weren't an NCAA Tournament team. Now, they are a bona fide tournament team that is going to make us work for 40 minutes."