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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Grizzlies Come Calling In Early Test

Wisconsin Hosts Another Summit League Foe

As a part of ESPN's College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon that concluded Tuesday night, No. 1 Kansas and No. 2 Michigan State both survived challenges by unranked non-BCS heavyweights Memphis and Gonzaga. Prior to that, UCLA lost to Cal-State Fullerton to begin the event.

The takeaway is that the Oakland University Golden Grizzlies will be a good early season test for the Wisconsin Badgers at a time when anything is possible.

Oakland returns five starters this year, including one from 2007-08 who took a medical redshirt last season. The Grizzlies beat Oregon and UW-Green Bay on the road a year ago, but in general struggled away from their home court where they were undefeated.

Local fans anticipate a Big Eight reunion between UW's Keaton Nankivil (Madison Memorial) and Grizzlies forward Will Hudson (Middleton) in the renewal of a match up in which Nankivil usually excelled in high school. Hudson set an Oakland school record for field goal percentage (68.2%) as a sophomore.

The Grizzlies have some strength inside, but I like the inside-outside-midrange games of Nankivil, Jon Leuer and Jared Berggren in this game. If the Badgers can make the extra pass, Jason Bohannon could find himself some open looks from deep.

Once again, the only way to see the game is by paying the Big Ten Network a $2.99 fee. Bah humbug.

Big Ten: Land of Triple-Doubles?
The Big Ten has suffered some serious blows to its supremacy this year, chiefly the complete collapse over in Iowa City and Northwestern losing Kevin Coble to injury for the entire season. On the bright side, two Big Ten players -- Michigan's Manny Harris and Ohio State's Evan Turner -- have posted triple-doubles already. I can see both players duplicating that feat at some point, but who else has a shot at this feat?

At Wisconsin, the official x-factor, Ryan Evans, appears to be the closest thing to a stat-stuffer we have. The Badgers traditionally do not block a lot of shots, nor do they get credited with many assists.

In my mind, that leaves these potential candidates in the following order:
  • JuJuan Johnson, Purdue (he almost had one last season)
  • Robbie Hummel, Purdue
  • Ralph Sampson III, Minnesota
  • Demetri McCamey, Illinois
  • Damian Johnson, Minnesota
  • Dallas Lauderdale, Ohio State
  • Verdell Jones, Indiana
: : :

In a refreshing bit of recruiting news, Wisconsin appears to be full-speed ahead going after guards in the 2011 class. The word on the street is that Bo Ryan has offered Traevon Jackson, son of ex-OSU star Jim Jackson. It is the second offer reported this week, after George Marshall's offer over the weekend. While this means Wisconsin has probably seen the writing on the wall with Chasson Randle, there are plenty of talented youngsters in this class that can help the program.

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