Preview: No.14 Creighton vs. Wisconsin

Creighton All-American Doug McDermott

After putting forth a suffocating defense effort in its last two games, Wisconsin takes another shot at beating a ranked team, taking on No.24 Creighton in the semifinals of the Las Vegas Invitational at the Orleans Arena.

No.14 Creighton (4-0, 0-0 Missouri Valley) at Wisconsin (3-1, 0-0 Big Ten)

Date/Time - Friday, November 23, 9 p.m. Central

Arena – Orleans Arena (7,471)

Television - ESPN2 (Kanoa Leahey & Miles Simon)

Radio - Wisconsin Radio Network (Phil Dawson and Andy North)

Series – Wisconsin leads 1-0 (First meeting on a neutral site)

Last Meeting – Wisconsin won, 73-59, on January 8, 1949 in Madison.

Wisconsin Probable Starters

1 Ben Brust (6-1 Junior Guard, 14.5 ppg)

3 George Marshall (5-11 Freshman Guard, 7.0 ppg)

5 Ryan Evans (6-6 Senior Forward, 9.0 ppg)

31 Mike Bruesewitz (6-6 Senior Forward, 6.0 ppg)

40 Jared Berggren (6-10 Senior Forward, 13.5 ppg)

Off the Bench

12 Traevon Jackson (6-2 Sophomore Guard, 4.5 ppg)

15 Sam Dekker (6-7 Freshman Forward, 10.5 ppg)

32 Zak Showalter (6-2 Freshman Guard, 2.5 ppg)

34 Zach Bohannon (6-8 Junior Forward, 2.0 ppg)

44 Frank Kaminsky (6-11 Sophomore Forward, 5.0 ppg)

Creighton Probable Starters

00 Gregory Echenique (6-9 Senior Forward, 11.3 ppg)

1 Austin Chamberlin (6-0 Sophomore Guard, 9.3 ppg)

3 Doug McDermott (6-8 Junior Forward, 16.8 ppg)

10 Grant Gibbs (6-5 Senior Guard, 6.3 ppg)

12 Jahenns Manigat (6-1 Junior Guard, 3.0 ppg)

Off the Bench

5 Josh Jones (6-2 Senior Guard, 7.5 ppg)

22 Avery Dingman (6-6 Sophomore Guard, 6.5 ppg)

31 Will Artino (6-11 Sophomore Center, 6.5 ppg)

34 Ethan Wragge (6-7 Junior Forward, 11.8 ppg)

Last Time Out

Series Notes:

The Badgers are 11-10 all-time vs. members of the Missouri Valley Conference. UW is 2-1 vs. Valley opponents under Bo Ryan, including a 66-43 win over Bradley in the 2011 Chicago Invitational.

Creighton went 3-0 against the Big Ten last winter, including home wins vs. both Northwestern and Nebraska and a neutral site beatdown of Iowa. Since 2000, Creighton has played just eight games against Big Ten teams at the time of the game. Five of those games were at neutral sites, three were against ranked teams, and two of those games went to overtime. Creighton owns six wins in 15 games against the Big Ten since 1973.

Ryan and Wisconsin are 1-0 against Creighton head coach Greg McDermott, beating his Northern Iowa team, 57-52, in the first round of 2005 NCAA Tournament in Oklahoma City.

Wisconsin junior Zach Bohannon and Creighton senior Grant Gibbs were teammates at Linn-Mar High School in Marion, Iowa. The duo teamed up to win the 2007 Iowa State Championship. Gibbs also played four minutes, grabbing 2 rebounds, in Gonzaga's 74-61 win over Wisconsin at the 2009 Maui Invitational.

Bohannon was also briefly teammates with Doug McDermott (Ames, Iowa) and Will Artino (Waukee, Iowa) on the Martin Brothers AAU team.

UW senior Mike Bruesewitz (St. Paul, Minn.) and Creighton junior Ethan Wragge (Eden Prairie, Minn.) were U-19 AAU teammates and faced each other in prep games.

Wisconsin Notes

As a team, the Badgers have posted 4 double-doubles in 4 games this season, with junior Ben Brust accounting for 3 and Ryan Evans having 1. Brust is the first UW player to tally 3 double-doubles in 4 games since 2005. Last season UW had a total of 4 double-doubles

UW is 2nd in the Big Ten allowing 51.0 ppg, leads the conference with a +5.8 turnover margin and is averaging 1.17 points per possession, which ranks 14th in the nation.

Wisconsin's 0.77 points allowed per defensive possession ranks 17th-best nationally. Creighton's not far behind, as its 0.82 points per defensive possession rank tied for 30th. By comparison, last year Creighton was 201st in that stat at 1.01 points allowed per opponent's possession.

Creighton Notes:

Creighton's 1.27 points per possession ranks second-best nationally, is also second with 1.36 points per shot, and third with an effective field goal percentage mark of 65.2 percent. Wisconsin's not far behind, as its 1.17 points per possession rank tied for 14th.

Junior forward Doug McDermott is the nation's only returning consensus First Team All-American, as well as the nation's returning scorer (22.9 ppg. last year). He's led the Jays in scoring and rebounding each of the past two seasons, and has already picked up MVC Freshman of the Year, MVC Newcomer of the Year, MVC Player of the Year and MVC Tournament MVP honors in his career.

Gibbs led the MVC with 176 assists last year, while Echenique had a league-high 57 blocks en route to earning MVC Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Creighton has forced 50 turnovers through four games. While it doesn't seem like much, that 12.5 per game average is better than the 10.3 turnovers the team forced per game a season ago.

Creighton won a school-record 15 games away from home last season. The Jays went 10-3 in true road games and were also 5-1 on neutral floors.

Prediction

Blue Hose coach Gregg Nibert has been around quite a few years and played a lot of good teams as Presbyterian had made the transition to Division 1 over the last five years. He didn't hesitate to say that after the Badgers' blowout victory that UW's performance was the greatest display of shooting and passing he has seen.

And that comment comes two days after the Blue Hose got beat by 29 by Creighton, which was why Nibert was expecting a great matchup tonight in Las Vegas.

"I think it will be a tremendous game," Nibert said. "Creighton comes off the bench and they're good. They have a complete team of 10 players. When Wisconsin comes off the bench, they're big. I think it'll be a 2-to-4 point game. I think it'll be a heck of a game against two well coached, unbelievable offensive and defensive teams who aren't just good at the first five, but coming off the bench."

It's a class of styles in Las Vegas between Wisconsin's shutdown defense and the Bluejays' solid offensive output. Last season Creighton ranked second nationally in field goal percentage (.504), second in assists per game (17.6), second in offensive points per possession (1.15), third in 3-point percentage (.424), fifth in assist/turnover ratio (1.46) and ninth in scoring offense (79.2).

Creighton has made at least 61 percent of its shots from the field in each of the last two games. The Jays shot 61.5 percent vs. Presbyterian on Sunday, then made 64.8 percent on Tuesday.

Wisconsin, on the other hand, led the country in scoring defense (53.2), was third in defensive points per possession (.877), fourth in fewest fouls per game (14.2), 11th in three-point percentage defense (294) and 15th in field goal percentage defense (.389). The Badgers have ranked among the nation's top-10 in scoring defense each of the previous six seasons.

Wisconsin did shoot 52.4 percent against the Blue Hose, executing on 43.2 percent of its 3-point shots, but the Badgers success will be predicated on slowing down a team that is shooting 57.0 percent from the floor, 76.1 percent at the line, and outrebounding foes by 7.2 boards per game.

Creighton has never beaten a ranked Big Ten team (0-5) and Wisconsin has never won a game in Las Vegas (two losses to UNLV), so something has to give. I'm banking on the Badgers having learned the kind of defensive intensity needed to compete against top 15 teams, especially away from home. Wisconsin makes some shots and pulls out a four-point victory, just what Nibert predicted.

Worgull's Record: 4-0

Points off Prediction: 38 (9.5 per game)

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