You know that Thanksgiving is right around the corner when you can watch college basketball starting before lunch on a weekday. While the Wisconsin Badgers (2-1 overall, 0-0 Big Ten) men’s basketball team doesn’t tip-off until the late, late hour of 1 p.m. CT on Monday, there are games on before that to distract you from work.
Having been off for a week, the Badgers are now in Las Vegas for the relocated due to COVID-19, 2021 Maui Jim Maui Invitational. Their opening round opponent are the Texas A&M Aggies (4-0 overall, 0-0 SEC) who are coming off a recent drubbing of Houston Baptist. The Aggies aren’t nearly as impressive as their unbeaten record would you have believe as the only team they’ve played with a pulse this year (Abilene Christian, No. 164 KenPom) took them to overtime.
Wisconsin has had a week off since their last game, a tough loss at home to Providence in the Gavitt Games, and are healthier than they were then and ready to play some ball. Starting wing Jonathan Davis missed the game against the Friars due to an injured foot, although x-rays revealed the injury to be less serious than he feared. With Davis out, the Badgers offense struggled to find a rhythm against Providence but the defense still looked solid.
The matchup between the Badgers and the Aggies will be an interesting one as A&M is No. 9 in the country at forcing turnovers while UW is No. 11 in the country at not turning the ball over. Both teams play slowly, with Texas A&M having an even slower pace than Wisconsin, so possessions will be at a premium. Stylistically, these two teams are quite similar with the Aggies being just a touch worse on defense than the Badgers but being a touch better at rebounding.
One thing to note is that Aggies starting big man, Javonte Brown, is a walking, talking, foul machine. Brown has only played 23.5% of A&M’s minutes because he is averaging an outrageous 9.0 fouls per 40 minutes. He is a quality rim protector, so having him continue to not play a bunch would benefit UW. In his place the Aggies have sometimes gone to a small-ball lineup where the tallest player is 6-foot-8 and then everyone else is 6-foot-5 or shorter.
This will be another good test for a young, learning Wisconsin team. While it isn’t a true road game, it is away from home and it is against another major conference team. The Badgers are favored by just about every metric, but it should be a closely contested duel in the desert.
How to watch/listen
TV: ESPN2, 1 p.m. CT, Dan Shulman, Jay Bilas
Streaming: ESPN App; WatchESPN
Radio/Satellite: WIBA 1310 AM, Sirius/XM 195; Matt Lepay and Mike Lucas
Live stats: Here!
Arena: Michelob Ultra Arena, Las Vegas
DraftKings Line: Wisconsin -3.5
(Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.)
KenPom Wisconsin win percentage: 61%
Torvik Wisconsin win percentage: 66%
Fun facts (according to the media guides)
- The Badgers have played in a non-conference November tournament in 14 of the last 16 years, going 23-12 (.657) in those games.
- Wisconsin has won the 2005 Paradise Jam, the 2011 Chicago Invitational, the 2013 Cancun Challenge and the 2014 Battle 4 Atlantis. The Badgers have recently finished as the runner-up in the 2016 Maui Invitational and the 2018 Battle 4 Atlantis.
- Wisconsin and Texas A&M meet for just the second time in series history. The only other meeting came back in 1984, when the Badgers earned a 71-69 win over the Aggies at the Lobo Invitational in Albuquerque, N.M.
- Texas A&M head coach Buzz Williams is no stranger to Wisconsin, as he formerly coached UW’s in-state rival Marquette (2008-14).
- Wisconsin is 4-3 all-time vs. Buzz Williams coached teams (3-3 Marquette, 1-0 Va. Tech). Greg Gard is 1-0 as a head coach against Buzz Williams, claiming an 84-74 win vs. Williams and Va. Tech in the 2017 NCAA Tournament.
- Texas A&M is off to a 4-0 start for the first time since the 2017-18 season, a campaign that began with a seven-game winning streak.
- Through three games, UW is shooting 80.4% at the free throw line and has made more FTs (45) than their opponents have attempted (38).
- Wisconsin is also out-rebounding foes 44.3 to 35.3, while averaging just 8.7 turnovers/game.
- The Badgers lead the Big Ten and rank No. 11 in the NCAA in scoring defense, allowing opponents just 51.7 ppg.
- Texas A&M’s defense is one of the best in the nation in forcing turnovers as the Aggies rank second in the SEC and No. 10 nationally in turnover percentage at 28.6-percent.
- Starting the first two games of his career, sophomore Jonathan Davis is averaging 15.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game (with zero turnovers) so far this season for Wisconsin.
- Super senior guard Brad Davison leads the team in scoring at 16.0 ppg. Scoring a career-high 25 pts last time out vs. Providence (11/15), Davison climbed up to No. 16 on Wisconsin’s all-time scoring list. If he scores 15 points against the Aggies, he’ll pass UW legend Devin Harris and move into No. 15 place.
- Johnny Davis, 6-foot-5, sophomore, guard, No. 1
- Tyler Wahl, 6-foot-9, junior, forward, No. 5
- Steven Crowl, 7-foot, sophomore, forward, No. 22
- Chucky Hepburn, 6-foot-2, freshman, guard, No. 23
- Brad Davison, 6-foot-4, super senior, guard, No. 34
- Marcus Williams, 6-foot-2, sophomore, guard, No. 1
- Henry Coleman III, 6-foot-8, sophomore, forward, No. 15
- Andre Gordon, 6-foot-2, junior, guard, No. 20
- Tyrece Radford, 6-foot-2, junior, guard, No. 23
- Javonte Brown, 7-foot, freshman, forward, No. 31