The Aggies will put their 4-0 record on the line as they open the Maui Jim Invitational against the Wisconsin Badgers this afternoon in Las Vegas. The 1:00 PM CT game will be nationally televised on ESPN2, making this the first nationally televised contest for the Aggie men this season.
The oddsmakers at DraftKings Sportsbook have the Badgers as a 3-point favorite*. A 3-point spread against a team that advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament last year feels like the Aggies have earned some respect with their early season results, and this game feels like an important barometer for Ags in the early season.
* Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.
Let’s take a look at the Badgers and see what we might expect. Similar to the Aggies, Wisconsin has a young squad, featuring seven sophomores and five freshmen. Two seniors and three juniors round out the 17-player roster. Head coach Greg Gard has his team off to a 2-1 start in his 7th season in Madison, picking up wins over St. Francis College Brooklyn and Green Bay before falling to Providence by 5 points at home.
Senior guard Brad Davison leads the Badgers in minutes and scoring, averaging 16 points per game. Sophomore guard Johnny Davis contributes 15 points per game and also leads the team in assists. Seven-footer Steven Crowl anchors Wisconsin on the interior, leading the team in rebounds. However, Crowl is a versatile forward who can step out and hit shots from the perimeter as well.
The Badgers are scoring 70 points per game in the early part of this season, but the strength of the team appears to be its defense. Opponents are averaging just 51.7 points per game against Wisconsin. Providence averages 76 points per game this year, but scored just 63 a week ago in Madison. The Badgers haven’t been a strong shooting team to start the year, averaging just 38.2% from the field and 28.6% from beyond the arc. However, sending the Badgers to the line is not a good idea, as they are shooting better than 80% from the stripe as a team. The Aggies are going to face a tough challenge on the boards, as 5 of the 10 players to log substantial minutes this season are 6’ 7” or taller.
The Aggies will face either Butler or Houston on Tuesday depending on the outcomes of the opening round on Monday.