Wisconsin men’s basketball is coming off a tough stretch of games, but they picked up three really solid wins over that stretch in Marquette, Maryland, and Iowa. Now, the Badgers schedule gets a bit lighter as they take on Lehigh in non-conference play. Let’s get into this contest!
Who (are the Badgers playing): Lehigh
What (are they): Mountainhawks
When: 6:00 CT
Where: Kohl Center Madison, WI
How (to watch): Big Ten Network
Line: UW -23, total of 134
Series History: none
The Lehigh Mountainhawks come into this contest sitting at just 4-4 on the season. Traditionally, Lehigh has been a pretty tough team in college basketball that has included some strong NCAA tournament performances but that does not seem to be the case this year. Of the four losses, two of them are to ACC schools in Syracuse and Virginia Tech but the other two came to Maryland East Shore and Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). Apparently, those small Maryland schools give Lehigh fits.
Coming into the season it appeared Lehigh would be a contender for the Patriot League behind heavy favorite Colgate. Overall, the Mountainhawks were picked to finish third in the conference but did receive a few first-place votes as well.
Leading the way for the Mountainhawks is do it all guard, Evan Taylor. Taylor was a preseason 1st Team All-Patriot League pick and is currently showing everyone why with his stats thus far. Currently, Taylor leads the team in points per game (13.5), rebounds per game (5.5), and blocks per game (0.6). He’s also a very strong shooter as Taylor is averaging 43% from the field and 44% from beyond the arch. In addition to Taylor, the Mountainhawks also have two other players averaging double figures in Tyler Whitney-Sydney (13.1 PPG) and Keith Higgins Jr. (11.6 PPG).
What to Watch for Wisconsin
The bench rotation: As mentioned earlier Wisconsin has had a tough stretch of quality opponents. Due to that, Head Coach Greg Gard has tightened his rotation to just seven guys. One of those guys is Connor Essegian who is basically an off-the-bench starter as he played more minutes than both Max Klesmit and Jordan Davis against Iowa on Sunday.
In addition to Essegian Carter Gilmore has gotten some run but beyond that, there has not been much. As the Badgers get deeper in the season it’s going to be important to find a little more from your bench, and these are the contest to hopefully be able to do that. It will be interesting to see how much run the likes of Isaac Lindsay, Kamari McGee, Marcus Ilver, and others might get. You never know when you are going to need to turn to one of them so getting them some minutes when you can is important here.
The score: Head Coach Greg Gard called this group “Team Drama” as every single contest seems to be a tight affair. In fact, the average margin of victory for this Wisconsin team has been just 6.75 points in their eight wins. For me, I am hoping we can see this Wisconsin team come in and put this thing away early. I’d like to see the Badgers blow them out of the water and work their bench in. I think we all deserve a nice, relaxing, and chill game. That said, we’ll probably see a game where Wisconsin is down five points heading into the second half and we’re all left scratching our head until they come out and win by 13. Fun!
Come back here later this evening for our game thread conversation in the comments!