Tuesday, November 27, 2012

game preview: Wisconsin

Date/Time: Wednesday, November 28; 7:00


Record against the Badgers: 1-1

Last meeting: UW 66, UVA 56; 11/21/98, Fairbanks, AK

Last game: UVA 80, UNT 64 (11/20); UW 77, Ark. 70 (11/24)

KenPom breakdown:

UVA: 60.2 (#345)
UW: 61.4 (#340)

UVA: 103.7 (#103)
UW: 114.5 (#9)

UVA: 91.0 (#27)
UW: 90.0 (#21)

UVA: .7919 (#54)
UW: .9222 (#10)

Projected starting lineups:


PG: Jontel Evans (0.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 0.0 apg)
SG: Paul Jesperson (4.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2.5 apg)
SF: Joe Harris (15.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.8 apg)
PF: Akil Mitchell (11.7 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 1.5 apg)
PF: Darion Atkins (6.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 0.7 apg)


PG: George Marshall (7.3 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 1.5 apg)
SG: Ben Brust (11.8 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 2.2 apg)
SF: Ryan Evans (10.5 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.2 apg)
PF: Mike Bruesewitz (6.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.3 apg)
C: Jared Berggren (15.2 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 1.3 apg)

The ACC/B1G Challenge is one of the best parts of basketball season, so it's no surprise Jim Delany is doing his damndest to ruin that, too.  Lord knows what the future of this excellent mini-tournament is, but for now at least, we can still enjoy a traditional ACC team, in the ACC, playing a traditional Big Ten one, in the way God intended.

As a team that needs to work its way up to the bubble, let alone into the tournament, UVA faces what you could call a must-win in Madison.  It's up for debate whether UVA would have made the NCAA tourney last year without a huge win over eventual-three-seed Michigan.  On the road, against one of the many formidable teams the Big Ten offers, we have a similar opportunity, but a much tougher one.

-- UVA on offense

Though he's only seen 13.3 minutes a game, Mike Tobey might well get a start and some serious minutes against Wisconsin.  That's because the number one challenge UVA's offense faces is the likelihood of seeing at least one tree on the court at all times.  Center Jared Berggren is one of those matchup boogeymen who, on the defense end, is averaging two and a half blocks a game.  Four of his fifteen blocks were against Arkansas, so we're not talking about someone who just beats up on tiny teams from the Southland Conference.  Berggren is six-foot-ten, legit, and will spend a lot of time on the court occupying space in the middle and making it very difficult for the Hoos to score inside.

The other really big guy Wisconsin has is Frank Kaminsky, off the bench at 6'11".  Wisconsin lists him as a forward, though, and he's started two games alongside Berggren to give the Badgers two tall guys inside.  Kaminsky played a very limited role last year as a freshman, which is only being slowly expanded (only 12 minutes a game) so despite his height he's not a major obstacle.

System-wise, UVA will be facing something very familiar: stifling, clogging, intended to limit shots ... this is no surprise, as Tony Bennett once worked under Bo Ryan at Wisconsin as a holdover from his dad's staff.  Ryan used a lot of Dick Bennett's principles, and so does Tony.  The question is how well Wisconsin will execute that system; Grantland broke down their game against Florida and pointed out a number of defensive breakdowns, coming to the conclusion that they miss Josh Gasser (their starting point guard, out for the season with a torn ACL) more than you might guess.  The problem is that we don't have Florida's athleticism to take advantage.  And since then, Wisconsin has successfully shut down much of their opposition, holding three teams under 50 points.

So it's more likely than not that UVA will find the going tough.  The interior will only be available in fits and starts, so the shooting has to be there.  If the Hoos can force switches, it may be that Wisconsin's help defense breaks down for some backdoor stuff as it did against Florida, but Ryan is one of the country's better coaches so it's a safer bet that UVA will find the going as tough as they try to make it on everyone else.

-- UVA on defense

Yeah, we're going to have to start with Berggren again.  Berggren sports an astounding O-rating of 139.9.  He's a terrific free-throw shooter, and if you don't pay attention, he'll shoot threes too.  Even with Tobey on the court, UVA will likely have no answer for Berggren on defense other than to collapse aggressively and force him to return the ball to the outside.  Even that might not work.

The other two main offensive threats are shooting guard Ben Brust, and freshman forward Sam Dekker, who comes off the bench.  Brust is a smallish guard with a deadly three point shot; Dekker can also knock 'em down, and is shooting .532 overall.  The fourth Badger scorer in double digits is Ryan Evans, but his O-rating is a measly 89.9, which is to say he's probably hurting more than he's helping.  Evans has always been a volume scorer, and is the kind of player who shoots threes and shouldn't.

Where UVA will have its biggest advantage in the game is at the point guard matchup.  Jontel Evans - yes, he'll play - will find some fresh meat in redshirt freshman George Marshall, who is much less of a participant in the offense than a point guard normally is.  If Evans can hound Marshall into a few turnovers, or even just into losing a little confidence, Wisconsin will be forced to make Brust handle the ball more, where he's not as comfortable.

The second advantage: Size.  Even though Berggren exists, UVA will otherwise have a slight size advantage, which will be more useful on this end than the other.  Wisconsin, for the most part, lacks players in the mid-big range from 6'7"-6'9", with only sixth-man Dekker fitting that bill.  The 6'6" Jesperson guarding 6'1" Brust is one of those mismatches, and Brust is not athletic enough to run waterbug circles around Pauly J.  With a lengthy lineup on the court that might include Akil Mitchell, Darion Atkins, or Evan Nolte, the Hoos have a chance to frustrate Wisconsin with size and the pack-line.

However, with sharpshooters like Brust and Dekker running around, UVA must be sure not to allow themselves to be sucked in too deep.  Wisconsin forces you to pick your poison between Berggren and their shooters, and playing too hard on one will let the other run amok.  That's a tricky balancing act.  Wisconsin forces you to try and win individual matchups, and with a guy like Berggren, they will have an ace in the hole before they even start.

-- Outlook

UVA has a few avenues it can use to engineer the upset, namely Evans's defense, and perhaps, offensive combinations, like Evans playing with some of these very talented freshman, that Wisconsin can't have scouted because they haven't happened.  But we're up against a much more established version of our own program.  Look five years into UVA's future and you just might see present-day Wisconsin.  And while defense is Wisconsin's calling card, they can excel on the offensive end.

Naturally, the joke is that the game will probably end up 35-33, given the tempo-choking paces both these teams are known for.  Not falling in a hole early is vital for both teams, obviously.  KenPom gives UVA about a 15% chance of winning, which I think is about right.  It wouldn't be an earth-rattling upset, but the Hoos have an uphill climb.

Final score: UW 56, UVA 51


Stuff went down today, and I meant to have a section right here to blab about it, but stuff got so big that it's post-worthy all by itself.  Tomorrow, then.  Coaching staff upheavals and conference upheavals all to be included.


Anonymous said...

It sounds like Louisville is the pick.

To be honest, none of the top 3 (or the two Florida schools, UCF/USF) looked all that appealing, so I didn't really care that much. Adding UCF/USF added potential markets ... if you buy those schools as being able to move the ticker on eyeballs, which I'm not certain of.

It was always Louisville or Connecticut, but I had grown intrigued with Cincinnati in recent weeks. It would "connect" us to Notre Dame, and push us into areas that we aren't in, as a conference.

That said ... Louisville offered the best programs. It doesn't feel like an institutional fit, but at this point, eh. But ... it has a strong basketball program, and the football program looks good with Charlie Strong leading it. Of course, that assumes Strong is still there (if a top name doesn't take Arkansas, he's got to be near the top of the list). At this point, quality of sports program is a big thing.

UConn can compete in that regards (and so can Cincinnati), but Louisville seems a tick ahead. UConn really has no options, as it doesn't seem like a Big 12 fit, so they seem like the ACC's backburner/Plan B option for 16. Cincinnati might get Big 12 interest, but eh.

It's not great pickings, and it was funny to see fan boards lit up with the idea of going after Vandy or Penn State, neither of which was realistic. Louisville's lack of institutional fit is a small pill to swallow in an attempt to make the ACC steady. Of course, first they have to hold firm on the 50 mil with Maryland.

Faragalli gone is an interesting first move. Really don't think it was his fault, but okay. Guess here is that it opens up a spot for Poindexter, giving them flexibility to add a ST coach while keeping a top recruiter.

Anonymous said...

Wahoo Wa!

Harris was a beast tonight.

Anonymous said...

Heck of a win tonight. The "small" lineup of Atkins/Mitchell/Harris up front is arguably their best lineup, due to their experience.

In an ideal situation, Tobey would've gotten the year to bulk up and develop, but here's hoping he can mature and add minutes as the season progresses.

Jontel looks like he should be fine by the ACC season. With Brogdon out, the rotations are fairly clear. Teven/Evan/Justin/Mike (and probably in that order in terms of importance) will need to carry minutes to give the veterans a break.

Jesperson looks a bit more confident this year, and we'll need him. Nolte looks ... solid. Reminds me a bit of Joe Harris in that, he might never be a stud, but he does a little bit of everything. Here's hoping Justin Anderson's shooting can develop.

Brogdon's redshirt makes for a ridiculous 7 man sophomore class next year, assuming no transfers (the 5 this year, plus Gill/Brogdon). Not ideal, but it is what it is as of now, and we'll have to work to get better scholarship spacing.

In terms of on-court matters (PT and opportunity), hard to see who might be a transfer candidate. Barnette comes to mind, but the short of it is, most will get decent PT this year.

Brandon said...

Honestly thought he was a bit off tonight, really. Sure he had some nice plays, but he's our primary (and secondary too?) scorer, so that comes with the territory. Couldn't hit a 3 to save his life and seemed to miss a few other shots that I think he usually knocks down. But wow did darion and akil come up big down low, great games out of both of them. Awesome win, little afraid of wisconsin's season just being disappointing as a whole and devaluing it though.