(8) Wisconsin (8-0) at Virginia (7-1)
Wednesday, December 4, 7 p.m. (ET)
The Sports Network
By Nicholas DeLorenzo, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: John Paul Jones Arena (14,593) -- Charlottesville, Virginia. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: Wisconsin 4-0, UVA 4-1. Away Record: Wisconsin 1-0, UVA 3-0. Neutral Record: Wisconsin 3-0, UVA 0-0. Conference Record: Wisconsin 0-0, UVA 0-0. Series Record: Virginia leads, 2-1.
GAME NOTES: Both the eighth-ranked Wisconsin Badgers and the Virginia Cavaliers attempt to continue lengthy winning streaks on Wednesday night, as the squads meet at John Paul Jones Arena as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
Wisconsin has ascended all the way to No. 8 in the nation behind an outstanding 8-0 record, its best start to a season since opening the 1993-94 campaign at 11-0. The Badgers most recently ventured to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico and came away with the championship in the Cancun Challenge by defeating Saint Louis (63-57) and West Virginia (70-63).
Since dropping its second game of the season at home to Virginia Commonwealth (59-56), Virginia has run off six straight wins to improve to 7-1 on the young campaign. The Cavaliers were also crowned champions of an early-season tournament, as they defeated SMU (76-73) and Missouri State (83-63) last weekend en route to the Corpus Christi Challenge title.
These two teams met as part of last season's Big Ten/ACC Challenge as well, with Virginia winning (60-54) to improve to 2-1 in the all-time series with Wisconsin.
The Badgers built an eight-point halftime lead over WVU in the championship bout of the Cancun Challenge and managed to hold on down the stretch despite shooting just 40.7 percent from the floor on the night. Sam Dekker, who was named the tournament MVP, closed out the event with an outstanding 21-point, 12-rebound performance. Ben Brust netted 16 points on 4-of-8 from 3-point range, Josh Gasser and Frank Kaminsky scored 11 and 10 points, respectively, while Traevon Jackson tallied six points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. Wisconsin's perfect start is due in large part to its prowess from 3-point range (71-of-163, .436), which helps the team to a +10.5 scoring margin. All five starters average at least 10 points and 4.8 rebounds per game, led by Kaminsky (15.8 ppg). Brust (11.6 ppg) is shooting 20-of-46 from beyond the arc, while Dekker (14.6 ppg), Jackson (11.5 ppg, 4.6 apg) and Gasser (10.4 ppg) have all performed at a high level for coach Bo Ryan's club.
The Cavaliers put forth a dominating effort against Missouri State en route to the Corpus Christi Challenge crown last Saturday, as they outshot their adversary from the floor, 56.6 percent to 41.7 percent, in addition to holding a convincing edge in the rebounding battle (38-22). Sparking the squad off the bench was Justin Anderson, who made 10-of-13 from the field on his way to 23 points. Mike Tobey (14 points) was also impressive in a reserve role, while Joe Harris (15 points) and Malcolm Brogdon (13 points, seven rebounds, five assists) were stellar as well. On the season, Virginia has shot the ball well from the field (.489) on its way to 69.6 points per game, but the main reason for its success its scoring defense, which ranks third nationally in allowing just 53.5 points per game. Harris (12.4 ppg) is highly efficient with his field goal tries, as he shoots 60.3 percent from the floor and 55.2 percent from 3-point range, although he hasn't had the same luck at the foul line (.565). Brogdon (10.8 ppg) and Anthony Gill (10.4 ppg) also shoot greater than 50 percent from the floor.
In a showcase of two of the nation's best defensive teams, this is sure to be a grind-em-out battle to the very end. Wisconsin boasts the better offensive playmakers, but playing on their home floor, expect the Cavaliers to come up with enough defensive stops down the stretch to pull off the upset.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Virginia 66, Wisconsin 65
12/04 10:33:49 ET