Wisconsin returns home to open the Las Vegas Invitational versus the Big Red foe that ended UW's season in stunning fashion three years ago.
The series history between Wisconsin and Cornell is short and sweet ... if you're Cornell.
As a 12th-seeded Cinderella in the NCAA tournament, the Ivy League's Big Red dominated the 4th-seeded Badgers from start to finish on March 21, 2010 in a second round matchup to bring the careers of Trevon Hughes and Jason Bohannon to a close. Looking back to these two teams' only previous meeting, its uncanny the similarities between how Cornell picked apart Wisconsin that day and how Florida ran away from the Badgers on Tuesday.
Wisconsin's subpar perimeter defense opened the gates for a variety of problems: too many interior looks (look at the shot charts), a high opponent shooting percentage (61%) and a rebounding deficit (27-20). Similarly, Florida outshot (61.9% to 35.6%) and outrebounded (40-21) Wisconsin in a 74-56 victory.
Cornell, meanwhile, will play its first road game after suffering two painful losses in its last two home games.
This game is the first of two on-campus tilts as a part of the 2012 Las Vegas Invitational that will conclude after Thanksgiving at Sin City's Orleans Arena. The Badgers will play Presbyterian on Tuesday in Madison, Creighton on Friday in Vegas, and then either Arkansas or Arizona State again out west on Saturday.
Since only a few players on either side were a part of the embarrassing tournament game three years ago, the revenge factor will not be as big of a motivator for the Badgers as simply getting back on the right track. With four games in seven days during this holiday week, slipping up against Cornell at the Kohl Center is not an option.
Bo Ryan mentioned after the Florida loss how his team deviated from some of the defensive principles they'd been practicing all season. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel beat writer Jeff Potrykus tweeted that UW was practicing with four forwards this week, leading to speculation that there might be some tinkering with the lineup.
Sam Dekker had a mini-coming out party against the Gators, while the guards provided little in the way of effective offense or defense. Even if it's not Dekker in the starting lineup for Ben Brust or George Marshall, I'm guessing sophomore Frank Kaminsky returns to coming off the bench with Mike Bruesewitz looking fairly healthy. For confirmation, look no further than this other tweet from Potrykus:
They don't pay me to coach #Badgers but I sense Bruiser gets first start of season...very soon.
— Jeff Potrykus (@jaypo1961) November 16, 2012
Cornell head coach Bill Courtney has already shuffled his starting lineup a few times this season. His veteran players have not offered up much consistency, so Cornell will throw a lot of youth at the Badgers.
Courtney's mainstays have been senior guard Johnathan Gray, and sophomores Shonn Miller and Galal Cancer. Miller, a 6'7" forward, leads the team in rebounding (5.7 rpg) and is tied for third in scoring (9.3), while Cancer tops the team with an 11.3 scoring average at guard.
Another young face is freshman shooting guard Nolan Cressler, who had a phenomenal debut against Western Michigan, scoring 20 points in 18 minutes. He is second on the team in scoring (10.7 ppg) off the bench. Sophomore guard Devin Cherry is also averaging 9.3 points-per-game for the Big Red.
Contrary to your expectations of an Ivy team, the Big Red have also played more uptempo this year, averaging 69.5 possessions per game against Western Michigan, St. Bonaventure and St. Peter's. But as a whole, Cornell has struggled offensively.
Look for Wisconsin to control tempo by making an effort to get the ball inside against a smaller Cornell team. It is something the Badgers got away from against the Gators due to Florida's speed and length.