Mississippi Valley State (1-9) at (13) Wisconsin (10-2)
Friday, December 23rd, 5:30 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Frank Haynes, Senior College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Kohl Center (17,230) -- Madison, Wisconsin. Television: Big Ten Network. Home Record: MVSU 0-0, UW 7-1. Away Record: MVSU 0-8, UW 1-1. Neutral Record: MVSU 1-1, UW 2-0. Conference Record: MVSU 0-0, UW 0-0. Series Record: Wisconsin leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The 13th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers play their final non-conference game of the regular season today, as they entertain the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils at the Kohl Center in Madison.
MVSU is just 1-9 on the season, and all 10 games have taken place on the road. Members of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, the Delta Devils have played eight teams from power conferences already, and with this game included, coach Sean Woods' club will have faced three ranked opponents -- North Carolina and Florida being the others.
Since suffering a brief two-game losing streak (North Carolina and Marquette) a few weeks ago, the Badgers have won four in a row, including a 66-33 rout of Savannah State on December 15 in their most recent outing. Coach Bo Ryan's team prides itself on playing exceptional defense, but yielding just 33 points to a Division I foe, no matter how inferior, is awfully impressive -- and that's the fourth time this season the team has allowed 33 points or fewer. Wisconsin hopes to challenge for the Big Ten Conference crown this season, and the team will begin that quest when it plays at Nebraska next Tuesday in the league opener.
Wisconsin won the only other meeting with Mississippi Valley State back on this same date in 1993, routing the Delta Devils at home in a 115-79 final.
The Delta Devils took it on the chin once again in their recent bout at Florida, losing to the Gators, 82-54. Cor-J Cox came off the bench to score a team-high 16 points for MVSU, which shot just 30.8 percent from the field, missing 26 of its 32 three-point attempts along the way. Terrence Joyner, one of the top scorers this season for the club, added 14 points in the losing cause, as UF put five players in double figures and connected on nearly half of its total shots. The one positive coach Woods can take from the game is that his team was a perfect 8-of-8 from the free-throw line. Unfortunately, the Gators were highly efficient at the stripe as well, converting 20-of-24 opportunities.
The Badgers continue to dominate the opposition at the defensive end, permitting a paltry 44.7 ppg on typical shooting efforts of 33.8 percent overall and 23.7 percent from beyond the arc. Offensively, Wisconsin is putting up 67.2 ppg in hitting 45.3 percent of its total shots, and 40.2 percent of its three-point attempts. Jared Berggren paces the club with 12.3 ppg, while Jordan Taylor (11.8 ppg), Ben Brust (11.3 ppg) and Ryan Evans (10.3 ppg) are all averaging double digits as well. Savannah State finished with just 15 field goals in the recent clash between the two teams, and the Tigers missed all three of their long-range tries. They were also just 3-of-5 from the foul line, grabbed a mere 24 rebounds and committed 16 turnovers against only five assists. Conversely, the Badgers dropped 56.8 percent of their field goal attempts and were guilty of only seven giveaways. Berggren led the way with 13 points.
Wisconsin has won 44 of its last 46 home games, and that positive trend isn't going to change here as the Badgers are clearly the better of these two teams. Expect another stifling defensive effort by Ryan's team, and for this one to be well in hand by intermission.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Wisconsin 70, Mississippi Valley State 45
12/23 10:42:47 ET