clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Wisconsin men’s basketball: Rhode Island preview

The newest addition to the Badgers schedule comes to town on Wednesday! What should you be on the lookout for during the game?

NCAA Basketball: 2k Empire Classic Consolation Game-Boston College vs Rhode Island David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 13 Wisconsin Badgers (3-1 overall, 0-0 Big Ten) will now be playing the Rhode Island Rams (3-2 overall, 0-0 A-10) on Wednesday afternoon instead of the No. 25 Louisville Cardinals on Wednesday night in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Much like everyone else in the country, college basketball teams have had to be flexible in their schedules and it is great that the Badgers were able to get a new game on the docket so quickly.

With limited time to scout the Rams we here at B5Q thought we’d help everyone out by taking a quick look at who the hell URI thinks they are!

Rhode Island Rams

  • Record: 3-2 overall, 0-0 A-10; last year 21-9 overall, 13-5 A-10
  • Ranked No. 72 by KenPom
  • Leading scorers this year: Fatts Russell, 17.6 ppg; Jeremy Sheppard 11.6 ppg; Antwan Walker 10.2 ppg
  • Leading rebounders this year: Walker, 6.4 rpg; Makhi Mitchell, 6.4 rpg; D.J. Johnson, 4.2 rpg
  • Leading assists this year: Russell, 3.6 apg
NCAA Basketball: AFR Hall of Fame Tip-Off-Rhode Island at South Florida
Fatts Russell
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
  • Leading steals this year: Russell, 2.2 spg
  • Leading blocks this year: Makhel Mitchell, 1.4 bpg

I will readily admit that I have not watched a whole lot of Rhode Island basketball in the past, oh, 15-17 years however, I do have a deep respect for them as a program based on the number of times I saw them play in the Atlantic 10 Tournament at The Spectrum in Philadelphia when I was growing up. Lamar Odom, Cuttino Mobley, Tyson Wheeler? These are guys I remember!

Personal anecdote aside, URI is a fun team for the Badgers to play and they should provide a good measuring stick for where UW is as a team right now. Wisconsin lost to Marquette, the best team on their schedule, and while Rhode Island isn’t as good as the Golden Eagles they are better than every other team the Badgers have played this year.

The Rams lost a lot of talent from last year’s team, who finished third in the highly competitive A-10 behind Dayton and Obi Toppin and Richmond, who beat Wisconsin. To offset the three starters, and five contributors, that they lost, URI hit up the transfer market and brought in a bunch of new faces.

NCAA Basketball: AFR Hall of Fame Tip-Off-Rhode Island at South Florida David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Two you may recognize are twin big man brothers Makhi and Makhel Mitchell (pictured above) who transferred from Maryland and are both getting run off the bench for the Rams. Syracuse transfer guard Jalen Carey (9.8 ppg, 2.5 rpg) was a late scratch from the Rams’ last game against Seton Hall and his status for the game against Wisconsin is unknown.

The leader, and star, of the team, though, is undoubtedly Russell. He can score from anywhere, he plays tough defense and he can set up his teammates for baskets as well. Per The Providence Journal:

The senior was named on Thursday to the Naismith Trophy Player of the Year watch list, an honor reserved for just 50 players entering the 2020-21 campaign. Russell was a midseason addition to the Naismith list as a junior and was one of 15 players selected to the Naismith midseason Defensive Player of the Year team.

Russell, a native of Philadelphia, Pa., was a big recruiting win for the Rams as he was rated as the No. 198 player in the country by the 247Sports Composite.

We’ll have a game preview plus a Fashion Blog on the Rams’ uniforms for you on Wednesday.