Wisconsin glided past UAB in the opening game of its Battle 4 Atlantis run on Wednesday, but the No. 2 Badgers (5-0) will face the biggest test of the young season on Thanksgiving if they want to continue that run.
Georgetown (4-0) is a big, experienced, and well-coached team. Though they are not currently ranked, the Hoyas were actually favored to beat Florida in round one and feature good depth. This won't be easy by any means. Preseason Big East Player of the Year D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera may have gotten on track last night in the 66-65 overtime win against Florida, and the junior guard's headiness could cause trouble for Wisconsin's perimeter defense.
I dragged Andrew Geiger away from an open bar tab to give us a few answers about this Georgetown team. Andrew is one of the casually awesome leaders over at SB Nation's Casual Hoya site and he thinks the Hoyas have a great shot at toppling Wisconsin. I say they can't shoot threes and are too sloppy with the ball. Let's find out.
Happy Turkey Day everyone!
B5Q: D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera hit a huge shot last night to beat Florida in great overtime finish. How pumped are you?? Describe Smith-Rivera's game and what challenges he will pose for the Badgers.
Casual Hoya (Andrew): Pumped dude, pumped! I mean, I'm sending you these answers at 1 am on Thanksgiving Day after numerous shots, so real pumped! As far as challenges for the Badgers go, it's all gravy (pun intended) for the Hoyas here on out so best of luck!
B5Q: How has Joshua Smith looked so far this year, both from a weight standpoint and his play on the court? After he was suspended and dismissed last year for academic issues, were you sure he'd be back to play his senior season?
CH: There was no guarantee Smith would be playing for the Hoyas this season but I'm certainly glad he is. Smith was in foul trouble against Florida courtesy of some questionable whistles but he is an extremely valuable guy in the paint and someone the Badgers will need to scheme for. He's lost weight, he's motivated, and he knows he needs to impress in this, his final year of eligibility.
Sleeping With the Enemy: The Badgers of Wisconsin
•Casual HoyaPhil dispensed Wisconsin knowledge and advice on a variety of Badger topics over at SB Nation's Georgetown site.
B5Q: John Thompson III is in his 11th season leading the Hoyas. He had a lot of success early on, but in recent years Georgetown has become known more for early postseason exits. What's the general feeling regarding JTIII and his time at Georgetown? Is his seat getting hot at all?
CH: There is no hot seat, so let's cut it off right there. Yes, the Hoyas have had some recent postseason failures, but JT3 has taken the program to a level that most fans didn't expect after the Craig Esherick era, with a Final Four appearance on top of a Big East titles. JT3 is the best coach for Georgetown, and he'll be the coach of Georgetown until he decides he doesn't want to coach anymore.
B5Q: As a Wisconsin fan, I can appreciate a team that plays at a slower than average pace. In fact it puzzled me for years that Georgetown didn't get the type of criticism the Badgers did for playing just as methodically. Though the Hoyas had more success playing at a slower tempo in the past, they are playing faster these days. Especially this season -- though that could be a result of the level of competition Georgetown has faced. Was there pressure on JT3 to speed things up a bit? Why the change?
CH: I don't think there's any pressure to push to pace, but I do think this team plays to its strengths more. Unlike previous years we have a bunch of guys that are more comfortable and willing to play in transition, so you won't see the traditional 'Princeton offense' that you might expect.
B5Q: What impact have the freshmen had on Georgetown this year? L.J. Peak stands out first and foremost, but four of them are playing pretty regularly.
CH: JT3 usually is hesitant to play the freshmen, but after the success Otto Poter (and to a lesser extent Greg Whittington) had as frosh, I think he realizes they can contribute as key cogs. The Badgers can expect to see a lot of freshmen Peak, Paul White, Tre Campbell and Isaac Copeland.
B5Q: Wisconsin recruited Paul White for a bit and both he and Peak have a Chicago connection. Is Georgetown making more of an effort to look toward the midwest for talent these days?
CH: Assistant coach Tavaras Hardy (formerly of Northwestern) has clearly helped the program reach into the Midwest for talent, and both LJ Peak and Paul White have Whitney Young roots. As far as this blogger is concerned, I don't really care where the talent infusion comes from, but that the Hoyas now have a reach into the Midwest is certainly promising for the program.
B5Q: Do you think the Hoyas can beat the Badgers in this game? Win or lose, what would a successful season look like for Georgetown this year overall?
CH: I think the Hoyas can beat the Badgers. The Badgers will be the second consecutive Final Four team the Hoyas face and have a veteran and disciplined squad, but Georgetown's athleticism is going to pose a problem for the Badgers that they haven't faced just yet. The Badgers should win this game, but if Josh Smith can stay out of foul trouble and D;Vauntes Smith-Rivera gets hot on the perimeter, watch out.
We appreciated how pumped Andrew was and can't blame him. Give him a follow on Twitter @CasualHoya. Will Georgetown's enthusiasm pay off against Wisconsin? Stay tuned (and alert) during your turkey hangover -- 2:30 pm sharp on ESPN!
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