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December 4, 2013

Preview: No. 8 UW vs Virginia





MADISON, Wis. - After taking home the Cancun Challenge Championship with a 70-63 victory over the West Virginia Mountaineers last Wednesday, the No. 8 Wisconsin Badgers (8-0) will look to extend their eight-game winning streak to begin the season exactly one week later when they head east to take on the Virginia Cavaliers (7-1) as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Wednesday night.

The ACC is 10-3-1 in the Challenge's 14 years, with the two conferences tying 6-6 in last season's annual meeting.

"The one good thing is you know every year either you've got a home or away game from a power conference, from a very good conference, and you know it's going to be a very good team," Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan said at a press conference on Monday.

Virginia has rattled off six straight wins after dropping their second game of the season at home to Virginia Commonwealth (59-56) and is coming off a weekend in which they were crowned champions at the Corpus Christi Challenge.

Last season, the Cavaliers came into the Kohl Center and left with a 60-54 victory. Led by Joe Harris and his 22 points, Virginia shot 45.7 percent from the field and outrebounded the Badgers 36-18.

Rebounding will go a long way in deciding the outcome of this year's matchup. Both Wisconsin and Virginia use a three-guard system and while Wisconsin's three guards are 6-foot-1 (Ben Brust), 6-foot-2 (Traevon Jackson), and 6-foot-3 (Josh Gasser), Virginia's guards are 6-foot-2 (London Perrantes), 6-foot-5 (Malcolm Brogdon), and 6-foot-6 (Harris).

Brust is the leading rebounder for both teams at 5.8 per game and the Badgers have four different players grabbing over five rebounds per game, but Virginia's team rebounding is mightily impressive and should give Wisconsin some trouble.

The Cavaliers grab an average of 39 rebounds per game, while conceding just 26 to their opponents. This gives Virginia a rebounding margin of 13 rebounds per game over their opponents, the sixth best margin in the nation. Compare that with Wisconsin's rebounding margin of 2.5 per game, 134th in the country, and the statistics become even more alarming.

Perhaps what is good news for the Badgers is that they haven't given their opponents many opportunities to bring in rebounds. While The Badgers are averaging 66.3 possessions, an increase of four from last season and the fastest pace since their 67 possessions per game in 2005-06, the Badgers are also scoring 1.2 points per possession - the most efficient team in Ryan's 13 seasons as coach.

Wednesday's game marks the first true road test of the season, a new type of challenge to this year's Badger squad.

"Well, it's a true road game," Ryan said. "At Green Bay, there were a lot of red jerseys. There was a lot of red coloring up at Green Bay, so it isn't like what's going to happen. I don't think we're going to see a lot of red in Charlottesville."

Game Info

When and Where: 6 p.m. Wednesday in Charlottesville, VA at the John Paul Jones Arena

TV: ESPN2

Radio: 1310 AM, 101.5 FM

WISCONSIN BADGERS (8-0)

Coach: Bo Ryan, 299-113 in his 13th season at Wisconsin.

Probable starters (height, year, ppg.)

1 Ben Brust 6-1 Sr. 11.6

12 Traevon Jackson 6-2 Jr. 11.5

15 Sam Dekker 6-7 So. 14.6

21 Josh Gasser 6-3 Jr. 10.4

44 Frank Kaminsky 7-0 Jr. 15.8

Key reserves (height, year, ppg.)

10 Nigel Hayes 6-7 Fr. 4.5

13 Duje Dukan 6-9 Jr. 4.5

24 Bronson Koenig 6-3 Fr. 3.9

Quick hits: With his next win, Bo Ryan will win his 300th game at Wisconsin, becoming just the ninth coach to win 300 at a Big Ten school…Wisconsin is off to an 8-0 start for the first time since 1993-94 when they opened the season 11-0…Wisconsin is 6-8 all-time in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

VIRGINIA CAVALIERS (7-1)

Coach: Tony Bennett, 83-54 in his fifth season at Virginia.

Probable starters (height, year, ppg.)

12 Joe Harris 6-6 Sr. 12.4

13 Anthony Gill 6-8 So. 10.4

15 Malcolm Brogdon 6-5 So. 10.8

23 London Perrantes 6-2 Fr. 2.8

25 Akil Mitchell 6-8 Sr. 6.0

Key reserves (height, year, ppg.)

1 Justin Anderson 6-6 So. 8.5

10 Mike Tobey 6-11 So. 8.6

32 Darion Atkins Jr. 4.6

Quick hits: Virginia has yet to play a game on the road this season. The Cavaliers are 4-1 at home and 3-0 in neutral site games this season…Virginia leads the all-time series with Wisconsin 2-1, with the Cavaliers winning last season's meeting, 60-54, at the Kohl Center…Tony Bennett is the son of former Wisconsin coach Dick Bennett and was an assistant under Bo Ryan for two seasons, one of which was 2003 when the Badgers went to the Sweet 16.

Why you should worry: Virginia is holding its opponents to 53.5 points per game this season, the third best mark in the country.

Why you shouldn't worry: Wisconsin is shooting 43.6 percent from 3-point range this season; opponents are shooting 33.8 percent from 3-point range against Virginia this season, ranking 175th in the nation.

For more Wisconsin Badgers news, notes and discussion, follow Zack on Twitter.



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