Gavitt Games Preview – Wisconsin Travels to Rhode Island to Take on the 2-0 Providence Friars

Providence is looking to keep the English era at PC off to an undefeated start. Wisconsin is looking to bounce back after a tough home loss to the Tennessee Volunteers. This should be the stiffest test for the Providence Friars, who are averaging a 14.5 margin of victory over two home wins.

Below, we break down what to expect from the Wisconsin Badgers on Tuesday night at the AMP.

Not Your Father’s Wisconsin Badgers – You won’t be mistaking the 2023-2024 Badgers for any of Bo Ryan’s squads. Heck, they don’t resemble the traditional Greg Gard grind it out to a 65 – 64 victory type teams. That is okay though. Wisconsin has a new identity built around scoring. The Badgers are averaging 87.5 points/game, although there is a massive variance in the two games. In their win against Arkansas State, they put 105 points, while they only scored 70 against Tennessee.

The curious thing about these Badgers is that they don’t seem to have the stifling D that we’ve come to know Wisconsin for. In their two games, the opponents averaged 78 points. Even in the loss, Arkansas State was 41% from the floor. Tennessee in the road win was 50% from the floor. Providence fans may be surprised to see how efficient their offense is against Wisconsin.

Connor Essegian’s Status- Tell me if you’ve heard this before, but the Badgers will take on the Friars potentially without one of their better guards. Connor Essegian, who was a freshman standout for Wisconsin averaging 11.7 ppg, injured his back in their season opener against Arkansas State. He would only play three minutes in that contest. Against Tennessee there were questions on whether he’d be able to go but he ended up logging 11 minutes. It will be interesting to see how much Essegian can give the Badgers. When healthy, he creates a bit of a three headed monster at the guard position with AJ Storr and Chucky Hepburn.

Crowl and the Badgers Frontcourt– Stephen Crowl was a freshman when the Friars and Badgers last squared off and boy did he look like one. He had 4 points on 1/10 shooting, with only 4 rebounds, and Nate Watson absolutely took him to school. Watson dominated the paint and put 24 points on the Badgers. Look for Crowl to have a bounce back in this one and the Friars need to counter that with a solid effort from Josh Oduro.

Get Right Game for Hopkins – Bryce, based off expectations, is having a rough start to the season. He is averaging 12 and 9, yes, but is only shooting 27% from the floor. He needs to utilize this marquee match-up as a chance to explode back onto the scene. I think he is still getting his feet under him in a more NBA style, free flowing offense, and Friar fans know what he is capable of when on his game.

My personal ask of him is to play within the offense and not be as much of a “ball stopper” and try to go iso ball. We don’t need that from him anymore with all the weapons on the Friars.

Make Presence Known on Glass – While Providence doesn’t have a 7 footer like Wisconsin, they have a bevy of wing players that attack the glass ruthlessly. There are currently 5 players on Providence averaging more than 5 rebounds/game. PC is averaging 43 rebounds a game while Wisconsin is only averaging 32. We’ll see how PC matches up against a frontcourt with traditional size, as this will be a harbinger of things to come for Big East play.

Close Your Eyes: Free Throws – Both teams apparently don’t stay after practice to work on their free throws. Providence and Wisconsin shoot 69 and 66% from the charity stripe, respectively. The poor free throw shooting, combined with Milwaukee’s stellar shooting, was the primary reason the game remained within arm’s length. If either team can be 80% or better from the free throw line, that may determine the outcome.


Crier: I’ll be totally honest with you: I was heavily leaning on picking the Badgers in this spot. They had a rough game against Tennessee, but who wouldn’t against a stifling Volunteer defense. This will be a close game and that did not bode well for the Badgers last season. Of Wisconsin’s 14 loses last year, SEVEN of them were by 4 points or less. Typically, you can see a team flip that narrative the next season, especially one that returns a ton of players. In the end, Wisconsin probably won’t have an answer for Hopkins, and the crowd wills the Friars to a narrow escape, PC 78 Wisconsin 76.

BOC: I think the athletes that the Friars possess will be too much for the Badgers to handle. I also think PC attacks the glass in a way that opens some eyes. They haven’t shown they can play solid defense all year, and I think that trend continues. Providence 79 – Wisco 75.

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