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What to know about Wisconsin men’s basketball’s game against Texas A&M in the 2021 Maui Invitational
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UW MEN’S BASKETBALL

What to know about Wisconsin men’s basketball’s game against Texas A&M in the 2021 Maui Invitational

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The University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team is headed on its first road trip of the season. The Badgers will compete in Las Vegas in the 2021 Maui Invitational beginning Monday. 

The Maui Invitational was moved to the mainland due to COVID-19 concerns for the second consecutive year.

The 2021 tournament will be hosted Monday through Wednesday at the Michelob ULTRA Arena at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. UW will be joined by Butler, Chaminade, Houston, Notre Dame, Oregon, Saint Mary's and Texas A&M.

The basics

What: Wisconsin (2-1) vs. Texas A&M (4-0)

When: 1 p.m. Monday

Where: Michelob ULTRA Arena at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Las Vegas

TV: ESPN, with Dan Shulman and Jay Bilas

Radio: 1310 AM and 101.5 FM, with Matt Lepay and Mike Lucas

Last meeting: UW only has played Texas A&M once. The Aggies beat the Badgers 71-69 in Madison in 1984.

The teams

Wisconsin 

Fast fact: This is the fourth time UW will play in the Maui Invitational. The Badgers’ most recent appearance was in 2016, when they lost to No. 4 North Carolina in the championship game. UW is 5-4 all-time in the Maui Invitational. 

Coach: Greg Gard, 121-71 in his seventh season at UW

Probable starters: Steven Crowl, Johnny Davis, Brad Davison, Chucky Hepburn and Tyler Wahl

Player to watch: Davis is set to return after sitting out the Badgers’ loss to Providence on Monday with a lower-body injury. He averaged 15.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists in the first two games this season. 

Texas A&M

Fast fact: The Aggies’ top four leading scorers are transfer students and combine to average 45.4 points per game. 

Coach: Buzz Williams, 26-24 in his third season at Texas A&M

Probable starters: Henry Coleman III, Tyrece Radford, Marcus Williams, Andre Gordon and Javonte Brown 

Player to watch: Coleman is a sophomore transfer from Duke who is averaging 12.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. 

Three things to watch

Johnny Davis returns

A source told the State Journal he bruised his heel during the team’s victory over UW-Green Bay. UW confirmed he had a lower-body injury and was day-to-day. 

Davis was a full participant in Thursday’s practice, which was the first time the team practiced after the loss to Providence.

The Badgers scored at least 70 points and held opponents to fewer than 60 points in the two games Davis played. UW also shot better than 35% when Davis played in a game. UW lost to Providence 63-58 and only shot 32.7% — the game Davis missed. 

Texas A&M is shooting slightly better than the Badgers at 36.7%, but it only is connecting on 27.7% of its 3-point shots. Coleman and Aaron Cash are the only two Aggies players shooting better than 50%.  

Emphasis on rebounding

All five wins for UW in the Maui Invitational have come when UW out-rebounded its opponents. The Badgers are 2-0 when out-rebounding their opponents while averaging 44.3 rebounds and limiting opponents to 35.3 rebounds per game this season. 

UW has 133 rebounds compared to its opponents’ 106 this season. The team is focused on utilizing its centers down low without being sloppy after Crowl and Chris Vogt got into foul trouble early in the first half against Providence. 

“I'm new to playing teams like that,” Crowl said. “I’m learning how to be physical to the point where it's not a foul and just trying to find that balance.”

The Aggies have 154 rebounds with an average of 38.5 per game this season. Radford leads the team with 6.8 rebounds per game while the tallest member of the team. 

The University of Wisconsin men's basketball coach talks about the new additions to the Badgers' roster at Big Ten media days Oct. 8 in Indianapolis.

Testing the bench 

This is the first road trip for 12 of the players on the UW roster. Davison said road trips weren’t the same during the COVID-19 pandemic and it’s the first time many of them have to play multiple games in a row. 

UW is guaranteed to play three games and will play them on consecutive days. The Badgers also are playing a high-level team each day. Three of the teams in the field rank higher than the Badgers (46) on KenPom.com — Houston (8), Notre Dame (37) and Oregon (41). Saint Mary’s is right behind the Badgers at 47, while Butler and Texas A&M are ranked 73 and 75, respectively. 

Chaminade is not on the KenPom.com rankings because it is a Division II school. 

The Badgers only have played one other team in the top 100. Their two wins came against teams ranked in the bottom third.

Davison said the tournament will be a good opportunity to bounce back from a loss and prepare for Big Ten play.

“It's gonna test us,” freshman Lorne Bowman said. “Playing three games in a row is a lot on your bodies. It's really going to take every single last one of us. Coach says it all the time. Our strength is in our numbers, so everybody's got to come ready to play.”

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