Both of these teams enter the weekend looking for their first win of the season. Wisconsin will hope to get back on the winning track after opening the season with a tough loss earlier in the week. Meanwhile, Eastern Illinois has been put in a nearly-impossible spot to start the season with opening-week matchups against two Power Five programs (Texas Tech & Wisconsin). Can the Panthers put up a fight on the road against a Badgers team in search of a bounce-back win?
Panthers bring experience into matchup vs. WisconsinEastern Illinois opened the season with an 85-60 defeat on the road against No.13-ranked Texas Tech on Tuesday. Junior George Dixon scored a team-high 13 points while Jordan Skipper-Brown added 10 for the Panthers, who turned the ball over 15 times and struggled to get stops on the defensive end of the floor.
Eastern extended its first half lead on this possession ending with a three-pointer by Josiah Wallace. pic.twitter.com/Z7jWyNYB0U— DEN Sports (@DEN_Sports) March 7, 2019
The Panthers are one of the most experienced teams in the country. Eastern Illinois features a roster that boasts seven juniors, six seniors, and one graduate transfer. Among those returnees is junior guard Josiah Wallace, who led the team in scoring last season at 15.5 points per game. Wallace was named to the preseason All-OVC team but will be looking to a better showing after scoring only two points versus the Red Raiders.
Head coach Jay Spoonhour is hoping that this group can show some maturity on the defensive end of the floor, where the team ranked 312th in the nation last season. They flashed signs of improvement versus Texas Tech, forcing 13 turnovers and holding their own on the defensive glass. That kind of effort on the other end of the floor could be the difference for them when conference play rolls around.
Badgers hope to bounce-back after season-opening lossThe Badgers opened the season with a heartbreaking 65-63 overtime loss on Tuesday night. Nate Reuvers led the team with 22 points and six rebounds while junior guard Brad Davison had 16 points for the Badgers, who were doomed by mistakes and poor late-game execution in the loss. Wisconsin shot just 27.8 percent from 3-point range and turned the ball over 14 times in the loss.
Finally, absolutely beautiful play design by Gard to get Reuvers open 3 from baseline OB. Davison tight, hard dive off Reuvers screen caused defender following for a half step, freeing Nate to get open off Happ's screen #Badgers pic.twitter.com/dEwrPXMUvn— Badger Film Room (@BadgerFilm) February 13, 2019
In recent year’s Wisconsin’s offense has been centered around high-scoring big men with unique skill sets (Ethan Happ, Frank Kaminsky) and now it looks like the torch has been passed on to junior center Nate Reuvers. Reuvers is used to making an impact on the defensive end of the floor, but his 22 points in Tuesday’s season opener tied a career-high. As a sophomore, Reuvers ranked fifth in the Big Ten in blocks per game (1.8) and he swatted four shots in the loss to Saint Mary’s. He features a nice inside-out game and can stretch the floor with a soft touch from beyond the arc, where he shot a healthy 38.1 percent last year.
The Badgers features a wealth of experience on the roster, which features three juniors and a sophomore in the starting five. Senior Brevin Pritzl adds stability off the bench while talented freshman Tyler Wahl is also expected to grow into a bigger role as the season moves along. Last season, Wisconsin ranked among the best defensive teams in the country, ranking fourth in defensive rating (88.5). They were also very good at taking care of the basketball, turning the ball over on only 14.6 percent of their offensive possessions (9th in the NCAA).
- Panthers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of less than .400.
- Panthers are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games overall.
- Panthers are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games vs. a team with a winning % below .400.
- Badgers are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games following an ATS win.
- Badgers are 36-16 ATS in their last 52 games vs. a team with a winning % below .400.