Sconnie Sports Talk

Wisconsin men’s basketball: Badgers and Tar Heels matchup in Maui for championship

Ariana Baldassano, Sconnie Sports Talk


The Badgers will be taking on No. 4 UNC in the championship round at the Maui Invitational at 8:30pm CT on ESPN2. The Tar Heels are coming off of a dominant win over Oklahoma State, 107-75. Wisconsin defeated Georgetown 73-57 behind a strong second half.

Projected Starters

G: Bronson Koenig (17.6 PPG, 1.8 APG)
G: Zak Showalter (6.0 PPG, 2.0 APG)
F: Nigel Hayes (11.2 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 3.0 APG)
F: Vitto Brown (6.4 PPG, 3.2 RPG)
C: Ethan Happ (11.6 PPG, 9.4 RPG)

North Carolina
G: Joel Berry II (16.3 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 4.5 APG)
G: Kenny Williams (6.5 PPG, 4.3 RPG)
F: Justin Jackson (16.0 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 3.3 APG)
F: Isaiah Hicks (14.7 PPG, 5.5 RPG)
F: Kennedy Meeks (13.5, 9.8 RPG)

Last year, UNC reached the national championship. So far, the number four ranked team in the country has looked like they are on par to make another deep run in March, even though it’s only November.

The Tar Heels have been one of the most dominant teams in college basketball up to this point. UNC’s closest win was by 15 points a game against Hawaii, and their average margin of victory is nearly 30 points.

The Tar Heels feature one of the most explosive offenses in the nation. North Carolina has scored over 90 points in five of their six games and scored over 100 in two of the six, both of which were in Maui.

Roy Williams’s squad has a very balanced and talented lineup with four starters averaging at least 13.5 PPG. Joel Berry II is the leading scorer at 16.3 PPG, and he is also their leading assist man with 4.5 APG. Berry II went off in last night’s victory, scoring 24 points on 4-6 shooting from three. Kenny Williams added three three pointers as well and is 8/17 from beyond the arch this year.

The Badgers were able to dominate Georgetown on the boards last night with a 50 to 21 advantage. Ethan Happ had 19 points and 15 rebounds last night in the win, but it’s hard to imagine another performance like that with UNC’s front court. 6’10” Kennedy Meeks is averaging 9.8 RPG, who in addition to his height has tremendous size as well. Meeks isn’t the quickest or best athlete around; if he’s matched up against Happ, Happ could expose him with his quick footwork. Meeks is averaging nearly five offensive rebounds a game, so finding him on the defensive end is a key for the Badgers.

Forward Isaiah Hicks has been tremendous for the Tar Heels early on averaging nearly 15 points an outing while shooting 66.1% from the field.

Nate Britt, a senior guard, has started in place of Kenny Williams three time this season, but has been coming off of the bench as of recently. Britt is averaging 7.3 PPG and 3.0 APG.

Junior forward Justin Jackson is one of the nation’s very best small forwards. His all around game is seen in his statline, averaging 16.0 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 3.3 APG. Jackson was a freshman when the Badgers knocked the Tar Heels out of the NCAA Tournament in 2015, and he hasn’t forgot about the defeat. Jackson said of possible revenge, “Wisconsin knocked us out two years ago, so, of course, it would be great.” Last night in the win over Oklahoma State, Jackson had 22 points, 8 rebounds, and six assists.