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Sleeping with the Enemy: The Badgers of Wisconsin

Your Fighting Hoyas of Georgetown look to get its first win of the season in a clash with the evil Badgers of Wisconsin, and as usual we here at THE GLOBAL PHENOMENON are bringing you everything you need to know about Georgetown's next opponent.  Here with us to dish on all things Wisconsin are our buddies over at Bucky's 5th Quarter, your premier source for all of your Badger needs. You can find Casual Answers to Badgers questions HERE.  Let's do this!

Let's get this out of the way. What the hell happened against Western Illinois?

Almost every player seemed like the were rushing things, resulting in some bad offense. Foul trouble and defensive miscues prevented them from establishing any real flow in the game. After taking a lead into halftime, the Badgers came out really sluggish. In fact, offensive rebounding was the only thing that kept Wisconsin in the game, but their poor free throw shooting ultimately did them in.

Congrats on last year, tremendous season. Take me through your March last year and, specifically, what it was like to beat that undefeated Kentucky team.

Losing to Maryland was the gut punch Wisconsin needed heading into the postseason. The Badgers then put on two unbelievable shows to conclude their Big Ten tournament run (a flawless offensive performance in the second half against Purdue and the epic overtime win over Michigan State) in Chicago. I knew when they responded to those tests for three straight days in the conference tournament that they were about to do something special.

Getting the opportunity to play four iconic programs in a row on the game's biggest stage was the most memorable takeaway from the Final Four run -- tell me who's beaten North Carolina, Arizona, Kentucky and then faced Duke like that. Beating Kentucky was amazing. Madison went bananas and the entire night is a haze. Ironically, the incredible party scene back at the team's hotel lobby kept them up super late Saturday night, which conspiracy theorists surmise affected them in the championship game. However, because the team had been to the Final Four a year prior, last year's run felt a little more business-like and I knew Duke loomed with a chance at history. I watched the championship game quietly at home, nervously optimistic about UW's chances. But once those whistles started going against them, the Badgers' body language changed too and they let it slip away. What a ride...

Frank Kaminsky, Traevon Jackson, Josh Gasser and Sam Dekker are all gone. Who's most likely to be "that guy" this year? Who's the dark horse candidate for late-game heroics?

Wisconsin has two returning starters, both juniors, that will carry the team all year long. Nigel Hayes has been a star for three seasons now, but point guard Bronson Koenig will definitely be the one pounding the rock and sniping away in late-game and shot-clock situations. It's one of his best skills. If you are looking for a darkhorse to make plays, I think by the end of the season, 6-5 freshman Khalil Iverson is going to make a big impact in a big game. He's very versatile, athletic, and relentless, reminding a lot of folks of ex-Badger Alando Tucker.

Is this year Wisconsin's last shot at a title for a while?

What kind of title? If Hayes sticks around (I suppose that's not a minor "if"), next year's team should be quite good. The Badgers will still play a role in the Big Ten title race in some fashion, but I wouldn't go so far as to say they will even contend this season unless the freshmen advance quicker than expected. Too many holes. Nationally speaking, you probably won't see a UW team as good as the past two years for some time unless they knock Ryan's replacement hire out of the park.

The Hornets reportedly nearly traded their selection of Frank Kaminsky to the Knicks on draft night for Kristaps Porzingis? Badger bias aside, which of those two big men would you rather build a team around?  What is your NBA comp for Frank the Tank?

I'm not much of an NBA guy -- being a Bucks fan will do that to you -- so I guess I'd just follow conventional wisdom and say Porzingis because a bonafide giant at 7-foot-3 who can also move really well. He destroyed Charlotte the other night and is only 20-years-old. But I love Frank and think he'll develop quite nicely. He'll always be an offensive weapon with his shooting and ball handling, so if his defense comes around, he'll earn a good contract. Thanks to the Hornets' injuries and increased minutes, Kaminsky set a career-high last night. Baby steps.

Thoughts on Washington's "Racing Presidents" in comparison to the Brewers' "sausage race?" The Brewers did it first, but is the Nationals' effort an original spin on it or an outright ripoff?

Uh, yeah, that's a straight ripoff with a new coat of paint. Good job, good effort.

Wisconsin is known for producing a range of cheeses. Any suggestions for next time I'm in the cheese aisle at the supermarket?

Personally, I'm a big fan of any dill or chipotle havarti. But people who know better than I suggest a Hook's 10 or 12-year aged cheddar is where it's at.

(Casual Note: I would eat an entire wheel of chipotle havarti and then eat another wheel of chipotle havarti immediately after finishing the first wheel.)

The satirical newspaper "The Onion" started on Wisconsin's campus. Is this the greatest contribution that the school has produced to modern day society?

If it isn't, it's darn close. My top five, in no order:
1. The Onion
2. Inventing Warfarin
3. Ders
4. Backdrop for Rodney Dangerfield's Back to School
5. Squeezing Apple for a $234 million ruling on patent infringement was a cool trick too

Death. Taxes. Bo Ryan Retirement Questions. Will this be Bo Ryan's last year?

I'm very intrigued by Bo Ryan's strategy on this one. He's made no secret that he wants his right-hand man Greg Gard to get the job, yet AD Barry Alvarez's desire for a big name replacement and an annoying state law regarding job postings is going to prohibit the straightforward transition Ryan desires. I think Ryan knew this was going to be a difficult transition year and that's part of why he returned this season. Pulling a Dick Bennett to force Alvarez' hand with an interim coach would be counter productive. My gut says he coaches one additional season coinciding with Bronson Koenig's senior year, and then retires. That way the cupboard won't be bare for Gard, as he'll have this huge six-man recruiting class entering its junior year. And maybe in a Frank Underwoodian way, Ryan knows the program won't be as hot in candidates' eyes after this season and that improves the chances for Gard to win the job.

In the interim, it's clear the uncertainty has cost Wisconsin at least one recruit. The silver lining to Ryan stepping down is that the uncertainty will be accompanied by a light at the end of the tunnel.

Good work here, no question really:

I think the account was hacked by Tom Crean. Luckily they caught the follow-up Vine in which UW officials handed out blue participation ribbons.

Freshman Andy Van Vliet was declared ineligible for the season.  Prior to this loss, what were fans expecting of him this year? As the tallest potential post presence for the Badgers, how will his loss affect the rotation?

Van Vliet was a true wild card this year. No one knew what to expect of him because he was an unknown foreigner who the public had only seen in the team's intrasquad scrimmage in October. But the kid can shoot and is the tallest guy on the roster, so yeah, he had some skills that would have been immediately useful. As a result, 6-9 freshman Alex Illikainen has already seen minutes instead of considering a redshirt.

Hearing a lot of good things about Nigel Hayes.  Is he the real deal, or is the press just assuming the best player on the returning champs will be a superstar?

Your second thought is interesting. Through three games Hayes hasn't looked like the world-beater he was projected to be. A bit of a change in his shooting motion has left his jumper off-target and because he's playing on the wing full-time now, his rebounding numbers are way down. A lifetime 50 percent shooter coming in, Hayes is down to 40.6 percent so far and well off his true shooting percentage of 60 from last season. It's not all bad though. Hayes' all-around game looks better and he boasts a 15:0 assist-to-turnover ratio. The adjustment period for becoming a true playmaker is still in process. You can tell Hayes is trying to get others involved, but he can still get on the block and draw fouls when he wants to. It's a matter of finding the right balance, not settling for jumpers and hopefully not waiting too long to enforce his will. It should happen eventually. Hayes is a star player and the kind of star personality that college basketball needs.

Which of us had the more embarrassing loss last week?

There's no good answer to this because last Friday night was disgusting all the way around. But while both home teams made more free throws than the underdogs attempted, Radford only hit 8-of-18 freebies. So basically, Radford tried to give the game back to you and you just wouldn't take it.

(Casual Note: Dammit)

We all want to see Duke lose. Tell us why you're better equipped to beat them than we are.

Uh, because we're sick of losing to them?? Because the evil Coach K-referee alliance robbed the Badgers of a natty? Duke is big this season, yet doesn't have it's PG spot figured out yet. You saw Kentucky beat the Duke with perimeter play, but neither Wisconsin nor Georgetown is as talented there. If Vitto Brown can keep stroking 15-footers, however, that could open up some things for Nigel Hayes against Duke's frontline.

You must give up beer or cheese for the rest of your life. Pick one.

You basically just asked if I can live without pizza. The answer is no. There's always cocktails.

Our game last year was one of the better ones, and the Hoyas were the only team to hold Kaminsky to less than 10 points all season.  What do you recall from that game that impressed you about Georgetown?

Obviously Smith-Rivera first and foremost. His shot was clicking and he just plays with confidence all the time. Also most of Georgetown's freshmen wings/forwards were big and athletic and flashed potential. Wisconsin is in a similar boat this year in that it has three eligible true freshmen and one redshirt freshman, Ethan Happ, that stand between 6-5 and 6-8. They are all getting minutes early and trying to feel their way out. On the Hoyas' side, though, guys like Copeland and Peak already have that year of experience under their belt.

Final score prediction?

I've seen nothing so far that indicates Wisconsin can put together 40 good minutes to beat a quality team. However, I'm predicting the opposite of what my instincts tell me: Wisconsin 68, Georgetown 67 in another thriller.