The Wisconsin Badgers enter the Thanksgiving holiday tournament season at a perfect 4-0. So far they have bested Northern Kentucky, Chattanooga, UW-Green Bay, and Boise State by no less than 24 points. As far as beginning of the seasons go, this one has been relatively stress-free for Bo Ryan and the Badgers.
That is all about to change, however, with the Badgers entering the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament this week. The field is stacked this (and every) year with the likes of North Carolina, UCLA, Florida, and Georgetown set to do battle for the fictional underwater island. Here is the full bracket:
Wisconsin opens up the tournament against UAB on Wednesday night at 6 pm CT on a channel I've never heard of which I'm assuming no one gets. The Blazers are 2-2 on the year and their best win is against Jackson State who is, to put it nicely, not good. The leading scorer for UAB is Tyler Madison, a 6-4 sophomore guard, who is averaging 12.5 points per game. He also leads the team in offensive rating, eFG%, and True Shooting percentage. He will most likely be Josh Gasser's responsibility when UAB has the ball, and despite Gasser's slow start to the season on offense, his defense has been solid as always.
Senior forward C.J. Washington is Madison's running mate and the second leading scorer and rebounder for the Blazers with 11.5 and 4.8 respectively. Unfortunately for the Blazers, at 6-8, Washington is the second tallest member of the team. This will pose a bit of a problem on the boards against a tall Wisconsin front court. The Blazers are 295th in the country in giving up offensive rebounds (38%), and while the Badgers aren't an excellent offensive rebounding team, they are above average at 33.6%.
The key factor here is for the Badgers to continue to limit their turnovers (12% turnover rate, which is fourth in the country) because UAB likes to create havoc on defense and in the passing lanes. Their turnover rate of 28.7% is good for sixth in the country and they've forced their last two opponents into 24 and 27 turnovers a piece. The Badgers are usually excellent at dictating the pace of a game, and while they are playing quicker than in years past, they still take care of the ball quite well. They'll also have to contend with Nigel Hayes potentially missing the game due to being buried at the beach. <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Badgers?src=hash">#Badgers</a> Nigel Hayes is questionable for tomorrow's game vs. UAB (burial). <a href="http://t.co/g2sIrhpUCC">pic.twitter.com/g2sIrhpUCC</a></p>— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) <a href="https://twitter.com/BadgerMBB/status/537296744699424768">November 25, 2014</a></blockquote>
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No matter the result of the game against UAB, Wisconsin will play either Florida or Georgetown in their next contest. This is an excellent early season test for the Badgers, while also simulating the rapid fire games of March. We'll have updates from the Battle 4 Atlantis throughout the holiday weekend if you'd like to escape your annoying cousins for a few minutes.