The Wisconsin Men’s basketball team headed South this Feast Week as the Badgers will take part in the 2022 Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament. Wisconsin is one of eight teams in a very tough field in Nassau. The Badgers will square off with the Dayton Flyers in their opening-round matchup. Let’s dive into it!
Who (are the Badgers playing): Dayton
What (are they): Flyers
When: 1:30 CT
Where: Paradise Island, Bahamas
How (to watch): ESPN
Series History: 1-0, Wisconsin won the only meeting between the two teams in 1961
The Battle 4 Atlantis field is incredibly deep and tough, and the Badgers will square off with one of the top mid-major teams in the country in the opening round. According to KenPom, Dayton comes into this game as the 37th-best team in the country. For reference, Wisconsin currently sits at 41st so this game should be a tight one, at least on paper.
Coming into the season Dayton was projected to win the Atlantic 10 conference, receiving 22 of the 29 first-place votes. Last year, the Flyers finished tied for second in the A10 standings and narrowly missed the NCAA tournament. A big reason for the high hopes for the Flyers is due to their returning production as Dayton returns all five of their starters from last season.
Dayton had three preseason all-conference player projections led by sophomore forward DaRon Holmes II. Holmes II finished last year averaging 12.8 points per game at 6.1 rebounds per game. Standing at 6’10” Holmes II will be a BIG (literally and figuratively) test for Steven Crowl on Wednesday as Holmes brings a strong game to both ends of the court.
Beyond Holmes II, Dayton also had two second-team preseason nominees in Toumani Camara who averaged 10.8 points per game last year, and guard Malachi Smith who averaged 9.3 points to go along with 5.1 assists per game. Thus far this season Smith has been limited to just one game with an ankle injury.
The Flyers come into this game 3-1 with wins over Lindenwood, SMU, and Robert Morris. Surprisingly, the Flyers did get upset by UNLV last week in a game where Holmes II and Camara were limited to just 6 points combined.
Things to watch for Wisconsin
Defensive Battle (4 Atlantis): This opening round in Atlantis will feature two of the nation's top defensive units thus far this season. According to KenPom ratings, Wisconsin comes into this game as the nation's 21st-best defensive while Dayton comes in just four spots behind at number 25.
Both units are a bit, um, challenged offensively but both teams have the ability to win games on the defensive end of the floor. With this game being on a neutral court in the middle of a dark ballroom we might see some good defensive basketball (or ugly offensive basketball).
Chucky’s cold start: Wisconsin guard Chucky Hepburn has had a bit of a slow start this season. Currently, Hepburn is averaging just 11 points, shooting 32.4% from the field and 30.8% from beyond the arch. Both of those numbers are down from last year, , but Hepburn has a chance to get things going here in Atlantis.
Bench depth: Regardless of the results, Wisconsin will be playing 3 games in 3 days down in the Bahamas. Playing that many games in that short of time, Wisconsin will need to get some quality minutes from their bench while also going against quality opponents. Depending on the result, Wisconsin will meet the likes of NC State or Kansas in the second round.