Badgers Basketball Preview and Predictions for Creighton

After a convincing victory in their opener, the Wisconsin Badgers Men’s Basketball team returns to action Tuesday night as they travel to Omaha, Nebraska to take on the 22nd-ranked Creighton Blue Jays.

See what Inside Wisconsin (@InsideWisconsin) basketball insiders believe the end result will be Tuesday night in Omaha:

Ben Thorson (@benjthorson): The Blue Jays enter tonight’s contest as the 22nd ranked team in the country despite finishing last season with a 20-15 record. This is largely due to Creighton’s loaded backcourt, led by senior guard Mo Watson. Watson scored 17 points in the Blue Jays victory over the University of Missouri-Kansas City in an 89-82 victoryFriday night. Watson will be matched up against Badgers senior point guard, Bronson Koenig on Tuesday night; Koenig was particularly sound on defense Friday night as he held Central Arkansas point guard, Jordan Howard, to 10 points on 2-11 shooting.

Wisconsin should have the upper-hand in the frontcourt, as the Blue Jays start three players under 6’3”. I expect a heavy workload from senior Nigel Hayes and sophomore Ethan Happ. The Badgers need to win the battle of the boards as Creighton allowed 12 offensive rebounds to an over-matched UMKC team in their opener. I expect an impressive defensive effort from Koenig, Zak Showalter, and Khalil Iverson; paired with the high-experience level of this Wisconsin group to prevail on the road Tuesday night.

Prediction: BADGERS 70 Creighton 61

Thorson’s predictions on the season: 1-0

Caleb King (@calebking_2): The Badgers travel to Omaha, Nebraska’s Century Link Center which plays home to the Creighton Bluejays on Tuesday night for a non-conference clash between the 9th ranked Badgers and the 22nd ranked Creighton Bluejays. Scheduled tip time for 7:30pm.

The last meeting between the Badgers and the Bluejays was in 2012 in Las Vegas where the Badgers were defeated by way of a 74-84 scoreline.

But the Badgers intend for this time around to be much different. Coming into the game the Badgers have three players averaging double digits in Seniors Bronson Koenig (13.1) and Nigel Hayes (15.7) and redshirt Sophomore Ethan Happ (12.4). The Bluejays also have three players averaging double digits in Seniors Mo Watson (14.1) and Cole Huff (11.3) and Junior Marcus Foster (12.5). The real question tonight is going to be guard-play, how Koenig and Zak Showalter will match up with Watson and Foster. Watson and Foster are quick for the Bluejays and generate most of the points for Creighton, whether that’s scoring or dishing out the ball.
The Creighton backcourt is going to be a challenge for the Badgers early on, but Wisconsin will keep looking to what has brought them success in the past which is slowing down the pace of play and making their opponents earn the chances they get from the field. Being on the road against a top 25 team is never an easy task. If there’s one area which the Badgers are highly favored in this contest it is down low and on the boards. The Bluejays are not a team that dominates the boards so Wisconsin will look to Happ, Vitto Brown, Hayes and Charles Thomas IV and Andy Van Vliet off the bench to be dominant on the glass, especially on the offensive end where the Bluejays struggled against their latest opponent UMKC. The Badgers shot a lot from the outside against Central Arkansas and I think tonight we can look to see the Badgers pound it more inside.
My player-to-watch tonight is Ethan Happ. As mentioned before, Happ has a distinct advantage down low and is going to draw guys to him. He has the footwork and ability to get around defenders and finish down low, but when he draws a couple defenders it’ll open up kick-outs to Koenig, Showalter, Hayes, and Brown to stretch the defense. Happ will play a big role in the Badgers success tonight and I believe will dominate the paint.
Prediction: BADGERS 65 Creighton 62
King’s predictions on the season: 1-0
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