The Badgers pick up after their week off, as they play UW-Green Bay on Wednesday night at 8 P.M. on the Big Ten Network. This game is the first game without Bo Ryan on the sidelines in 14 years for the Badgers, and will mark the first game for Greg Gard as interm head coach for the Badgers. Wisconsin came out on top of last year’s matchup, 84-60. The Badgers will look to notch their first win over an in-state team this year.

Projected Starters

Projected Wisconsin Starters
G: Bronson Koenig (15.1 PPG, 2.5 APG)
G: Zak Showalter (8.1 PPG, 5.1 RPG)
F: Nigel Hayes (15.6 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 4.3 APG)
F: Vitto Brown (10.0 PPG, 7.0 RPG)
F: Ethan Happ (11.2 PPG, 8.3 RPG)

Projected Green Bay Starters
G: Carrington Love (18.8 PPG, 3.0 APG)
G: Charles Cooper (11.3 PPG, 4.6 RPG)
G: Khalil Small (9.0 PPG, 3.1 RPG)
G: Jordan Fouse (11.3 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 3.3 APG)
F: Kenneth Lowe (6.3 PPG, 2.7 RPG)


Wisconsin has traditionally dominated this matchup, only losing to Green Bay once in 2009. Of course, the Badgers had also only lost to Milwaukee once before this year as well.

Green Bay does not have lead man from last year Kiefer Sykes, who averaged 18.6 PPG and 4.0 APG last season for the Phoenix, and viciously almost put Frank Kaminsky on a poster. Green Bay has been trying to replace him all year, going 6-4 so far this season.

The Phoenix essentially start four guards and one center, but their tallest starter, Kenneth Lowe, is only 6’7″. Carrington Love is the leading the team in points and second in assists, so he tends to have his fingerprints all over the Phoenix’s gameplay. Jordan Fouse is Love’s second man, averaging 11.3 points per game while having team highs in assists and rebounds. Besides Love, who shoots 39% from the 3-pt. line, the only other threat for Green Bay from deep is Tevin Findlay who shoots almost 73% from the arc. He only plays 13 minutes a game, but when he’s in, you have to run him off the line.

The Badgers should look to impose their size on the short Green Bay front court. Nigel Hayes and Ethan Happ should be able to get what they want in the paint, as long as the offense is running more smoothly than it did against Texas A&M-CC. I’ve written this in almost every preview but it continues to be a need, Hayes and Bronson Koenig need to start stringing multiple good games, or even halves, together now as we start getting closer to tournament time if they want to have a chance at making it to the big dance.

With the Phoenix playing with four guards, it will force Happ or Vitto Brown to have to guard on the perimeter, which will be something to watch. Khalil Iverson may have to play more minutes so the Badgers can matchup defensively. Look for Jordan Hill and Alex Illikainen to play more with Gard calling the shots now.

Changing of the Gard

The Badgers are coming off their longest break of the year, which came at a pretty good time. You may have heard, but Bo Ryan retired after their game against Texas A&M-CC, giving Greg Gard a chance at the head coaching position. It will be interesting to see if Gard shows any new tendencies and breaks some tradition of Bo Ryan’s ideals. It will also be Howard Moore’s first game back on the staff.

The rest of the year will be, for lack of a better word, a tryout for Gard’s future as a part of the program. Getting off to a fast start will be important for him.

Bottom Line

This is the last chance the Badgers have to fix some issues before the Big Ten season starts, so Wednesday night is actually more important than your regular game. Getting a head of steam before the Big Ten schedule and under a new coach would go a long way for the Badgers, who need a strong second half of the season to make the tournament.