Coming off an impressive 65-41 win over Virginia yesterday, Wisconsin basketball will play for the championship in the Fort Myers Tip-Off. They will take on SMU, who defeated West Virginia 70-58. The Mustangs are 4-1 on the year. Can the Badgers get another win and continue their history of playing well in early season tournaments? Tip time is 7:30 PM. Here is a preview of tomorrow’s game.
Can Steven Crowl Have a Repeat Performance?
After taking a call out from Greg Gard after the Providence game, Steven Crowl has put up 31 points over his last two games. Yesterday, he made his presence early and often. I thought he was the best player on the court from both teams. He played really well in the pick and roll game and was aggressive at the rim.
The potential is there for Steven Crowl, but he often is passive on the offensive side. When he puts together two good performances, he has the history of taking a step back for awhile. It will be interesting to see if Greg Gard finds ways to get him involved early and often tomorrow against an under-sized Mustangs team.
Can Wisconsin Basketball Defend Athletic Guards?
Early in the season, Wisconsin basketball has not defended athletic opposing guards very well. Arkansas State, Tennessee, Providence, and Robert Morris all had them. It’s no disrespect to Virginia, but they were mostly a catch and shoot three point shooting team. The Badgers did what they had to do to close out and force contested shots.
SMU will have two good guards in Chuck Harris and Zhuric Phelps. These two guards average about 14 points a piece and were huge in their win over the Mountaineers yesterday. Fortunately, Wisconsin has a day to prepare and was able to watch them yesterday. Players like Chucky Hepburn, Max Klesmit, John Blackwell, and Kamari McGee will need to defend as well as they did yesterday.
ESPN gives Wisconsin Basketball a 78% chance to win this game tomorrow. That might be a little bit of a reach. SMU is small, but they are athletic and will want to get in a track meet. It is a complete opposite of what Virginia wanted to do. It’s a day to prep, but that can take more than a day in most cases.
I believe the Wisconsin basketball team we saw yesterday is what this team really is. Not the team that played Providence and Robert Morris. They are a veteran team and understand they have to pick it up on the defensive side. Offensively, I think they are just fine. Yesterday was what this team needed giving up only 41 points.
The athletic guards of SMU do concern me. I don’t think the Badgers are built to get in a track meet against a team that is averaging 79 points a year. I would not be surprised to see Greg Gard go 10 or 11 into his rotation again for fresh legs and defensive purposes.
This time a week ago, I would have picked SMU. However, I like where Steven Crowl and Tyler Wahl are at and starting to play like the upper classmen they are. Again, I think they have another big advantage in the post as SMU doesn’t play a ton of height. They destroyed an under-sized Virginia 20-3 on the offensive glass as well.
I like where Wisconsin basketball at right now. With their three game gauntlet coming up starting next Saturday, a win tomorrow would give them the confidence they need. I think Wahl and Crowl are the focal points again tomorrow and I think players like AJ Storr (seven points) and Chucky Hepburn (three points) will shoot better too. Give me Wisconsin basketball tomorrow night.
Wisconsin 75 SMU 70
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