After the Hiwassee game, the Mocs would love to go on the road and take out one of the nation's top teams, the Wisconsin Badgers.
Let's just call this a small step up in competition.
The Mocs pressure defense may be able to get to any number of teams, but it is hard to imagine that the Badgers will fall for that. Traevon Jackson and Josh Gasser are both excellent players. A season ago, Jackson averaged 10.7 points per game. He also comes up with four assists per contest and 3.8 assists per game. He has made a lot of big shots in his career. Jackson is not the best player on the team, but he is probably the toughest guard the Mocs will be trying to pressure all year long.
Gasser averaged 8.8 points per game. But he is best known for his defense. He is a two time member of the Big Ten's All Defensive Team. He will need to step up for Ben Brust, whose offensive presence will be missed. Gasser thinks that he can become a bigger offensive star in Brust's absence and that is what the Badgers are counting on.
Of course, for the Badgers everything really begins and ends with Frank Kaminsky. The 7 foot tall senior center is one of the favorites to win National Player of the Year. He averaged 13.9 points per game and 6.3 rebounds per game a year ago. He shot 52.8% from the floor, along with 76.5% from the free throw line. He also made 37.8% from three. In other words, he can shoot from anywhere on the floor. He was so good during the NCAA Tournament run to the Final Four a year ago. He is the focus of every team that plays the Badgers, and he will be the Mocs biggest challenge.
Sam Dekker scored 12.4 points per game with 6.1 rebounds per game, but his shooting numbers were down. Dekker really showed up over the summer and seems ready for a major breakout season. The 6-7 player could be a match-up problem for the Mocs.
Justin Tuoyo is a solid defensive player for the Mocs. He needs to be able to control Kaminsky and try to make the Badgers into a team that shoots from long range. If he does that, along with the pressure defense forcing a handful of turnovers that turn into easy baskets, the Mocs may be able to hang around in this game for a while.
Of course, the key may also be the Mocs three point shooting. If Rico White knocks down a few threes, or Martynas Bareika, that could also help the Mocs hang in this one.
Duke Ethridge and Chuck Ester will need to develop quickly and show up in a big way in this one. They have the athletic ability to contend in this one, but they will each be playing their second games as D1 players, so that is not exactly a time that you expect them to have their breakout.
This is going to be a brutally tough showdown for the Mocs. They just don't really match-up well with the very experienced Badgers. The Mocs would have a better shot in the NCAA Tournament once the new guys are integrated into the lineup. But right now, it's too much. The Badgers have no reason to run up the score and they won't, and the Mocs are good enough to stick around for a while. In the end, the Mocs need to go in, do the best they can, and come back on Tuesday and try to get after Butler. Wisconsin 82, Chattanooga 61.