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Badgers Basketball Preview: UW hosts Syracuse in huge Big Ten/ACC Challenge Matchup

The Basics

Where: Madison, Wis.; Kohl Center
When: Tues. Nov. 29; 6:30pm CT
Channel: ESPN
All-Time Series: Series tied 2-2
Last Meeting: UW won, 66-58 (ot), (@ Syracuse, 2015)

Projected Starting Lineups

Syracuse Orange (4-1)

G Frank Howard — So. 6-5, 205 (9.2 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 6.4 apg)
G/F Andrew White III — Sr. 6-7, 210 (15.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.0 apg)
F Tyler Roberson — Sr. 6-8, 226 (10.0 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 0.8 apg)
F Tyler Lydon — So. 6-9, 223 (11.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 1.6 apg)
C DaJuan Coleman — Sr. 6-9, 258 (5.0 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 0.4 apg)

Wisconsin Badgers (5-2)

G Bronson Koenig — Sr. 6-3, 190 (14.4 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 1.7 apg)
G Zak Showalter — Sr. 6-3, 185 (6.7 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 2.1 apg)
F Nigel Hayes — Sr. 6-8, 240 (11.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.6 apg)
F Vitto Brown — Sr. 6-8, 235 (7.4 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 0.9 apg)
C Ethan Happ — So. 6-10, 232 (11.8 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 2.3 apg)

Biggest Matchup: Vitto Brown vs. Tyler Lydon

All eyes will be on Ethan Happ, Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig in this matchup because the three have yet to put a complete game together. However, with Syracuse employing its famous zone defense, there is but one person that holds the key to Wisconsin’s offense on Tuesday night and that man is Vitto Brown.

He will be the one in the middle of the zone and looking to bust it with his own shooting or passing out of the central position he’ll take up. Brown has been a huge help to this team and vew would suspect him to be a lynchpin of the scoring for this offense, but that has been the case as of late.

That says nothing of the matchup Brown is likely to see against Tyler Lydon. Brown’s wingspan and great spacing aren’t often the topics of conversation, but in this matchup they are the keys to stopping a player like Lydon from taking over.

Let’s just say the big men are going to have a serious role in this game.

3 Numbers to Know

— 86: That is the number of second-chance points scored by the Badgers so far this season. With a zone being employed by Syracuse Wisconsin needs to find a way to score some points off offensive rebounds. Luckily, UW holds an 86-41 advantage in second-chance points so far this season and that stat is going to be key to UW getting a much-needed win over a quality opponent.

— .316: That is Wisconsin’s three point shooting percentage on the season. It also is a big worry spot against Syracuse’s zone defense, as teams that succeed are usually the ones that can shoot the Orange out of said zone. A big issue has been big-named players like Hayes and Showalter not getting good looks to go down. They’ll have opportunities in this game, can they take advantage of them? Or will we see players like Andy Van Vliet and Brevin Prtizl take on much bigger roles as potential zone-busters?

— 0: That is the number of top 25 opponents Syracuse have faced so far this year. Of the two teams, there is clearly one that has been tested more than the other against good competition. Given that, it should be noted that most of the season average stats and “advantages” should be taken with a grain of salt. Let’s also not forget that this is a home game for Wisconsin, and can the Orange handle that environment?

Prediction

Wisconsin 68, Syracuse 64

This matchup should be really interesting, if for no other reason than the Badgers finally get one of the big names on the schedule at home. Can they get over the hump against a fellow top 25 team with the help of the Kohl Center crowd? If not, then this team is in some serious trouble after talking national championship before the season.

I fully expect to see one of Happ, Hayes and Koenig to go off and my money is on Koenig to be that one on the heels of a horrific performance in the Maui Invitational final and a 1-6 night from beyond the arc against Prairie View A&M. Look for him to be a catalyst against this zone, meanwhile Wisconsin struggles a bit with the length that Syracuse can employ on the other end of the court.