The Illini haven’t beat Wisconsin in basketball in quite a while, but after the losing streak in football ended at Homecoming, Illinois hopes to change the narrative Wednesday night at the Kohl Center in Madison.
For more on Bucky, we talked to Drew Hamm (@drewhamm5) of our sister site, Bucky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q).
TCR: It’s been forever since Illinois beat Wisconsin at the Kohl Center, or just at all. Why does the streak not end on Wednesday?
B5Q: The Badgers, after starting the season with some bad losses, are finally hitting their stride as a team. They have their full complement of players so their rotation is finally in order and they are playing lockdown defense, like, 75% of the time down the court. They also shoot much better at home than on the road and they lead the conference in free throw shooting so they tend to close out games well.
TCR: Let’s turn that around. Why does the streak finally end on Wednesday?
B5Q; Nate Reuvers and Micah Potter get in foul trouble trying to stop perpetual B1G Freshman of the Week Kofi Cockburn so he and Giorgi Bezhanishvilli feast inside. D’Mitrik Trice has an off shooting night or Kobe King is passive on offense would also be killer for the Badgers chances.
TCR: I’m sure you’ve seen Kofi Cockburn at this point. Can Wisconsin do anything to stop him?
B5Q: This is a matchup I am Worried (capital W) about in the game. Cockburn is as imposing a player as I’ve ever seen and while the Badgers have tall, capable dudes to defend him (Reuvers is 6-foot-11 and Potter is 6-foot-10) they are both foul prone, to put it politely. Perhaps putting Brad Davison on someone’s shoulders to try and draw a couple of cheap offensive fouls might work? I’m not sure the legality of that scenario and I will NOT look it up either.
TCR: Will Greg Gard out-coach Brad Underwood? Because Underwood (until the Purdue game on Sunday) has been pretty stubborn to make changes.
Gard gets a lot of crap from the Badgers fanbase for not being Bo Ryan and for not being able to recruit, two complaints that are true and false respectively. One of the things I think he’s improved on throughout his head coaching tenure in Madison is in-game adjustments and out of bounds plays. Wisconsin used to struggle on inbounds plays and would invariably huck the ball all the way into the backcourt even if they were under the basket they were shooting at. Now, they sometimes get shot attempts off of a drawn-up play and sometimes, try and follow me here because I didn’t believe it the first time I saw it, they get points! So, uh, I guess my answer is...maybe? #analysis
TCR: What’s one thing to know about this Badgers team (except for the fact that they just also upset a top-5 Big Ten team)?
B5Q: I’ll give you TWO things! One, they are the best free throw shooting team in the conference and the No. 13 best free throw shooting team in the nation at 77.7%. Two, you are going to absolutely hate Tyler Wahl by the end of the game. The true freshman from Lakeville, Minn. is just one of those guys...you love to have him on your team and you hate to play against him. The Badgers just always seem to have at least one of those guys, don’t they?
#Badgers D.Tice was asked this about frosh Tyler Wahl: If he was on the other team, would you hate him? “Oh yea,” Trice said, smiling. “He is somebody you want on your team. And you hate to play against those kinds of guys. We're thankful he is on our team."— Jeff Potrykus (@jaypo1961) January 7, 2020
B5Q: Wisconsin stays hot and beats Illinois, 66-60.