This is one of the biggest games of December in college basketball The 2nd ranked Pittsburgh Panthers come to Madison to face the 7th ranked Wisconsin Badgers. December is usually when elite teams load their schedule with easy opponents at home. To see such a difficult nonconference game at this time of year is a breath of fresh air. A matchup like this is so unexpected that I did not realize this game was on until this morning! So forgive me for not providing a preview.
Players to Watch:
- Aaron Gray, Pitt. He has the flu today, but his size (7-0, 270) and dominance of the paint make him a top NBA prospect and a big reason Pitt is such a good team.
- Alondo Tucker, Wisconsin. Another big NBA prospect, he can take over a game from anywhere on the court.
12:19 pm: This game is happening at such a fast pace. Pitt Guard Ronald Ramon is making a big impact with a sweet jumpshot. As expected, Alondo Tucker is having a big game so far. The game is teid, 16-16.
12:21 pm: 9 minutes have already passed in the first half. Aaron Gray is finally back in, and already he fouls tucker. 18-16, Wisconsin.
12:23 pm: The Kohl Center is one of the toughest places to play. I think that in the last five years the Badgers have lost only 2 non-conference games at home.
12:25 pm: Amazing–Wisconsin has yet to turnover the ball and we’re more than halfway through the first half. They taken a few bad shots, though, which have led to Pitt opportunities. 20-18, Pitt.
12:26 pm: Tucker hits a three, but Aaron Gray finally contributes off the fast break. 22-21, Pitt. I like the exciting, fast pace of the game.
12:29 pm: About the Kohl Center, I looked it up, and the Badgers have won 38 consecutive games from 2004 to 2005.
12:31 pm: 25-25. Tucker has 15 of Wisconsin’s 25 points, and he’s hitting shots from everywhere.
12:33 pm: 27-25, Wisconsin. Pitt calls a timeout; the Panthers have absolutely no answer for Tucker, who now has 17.
12:35 pm: Holy Crap! I just saw a 7 footer from Wisconsin hit a 3-pointer. 32-28, Badgers.
I just found out that the Wisconsin student section is called “The Grateful Red.” I have no idea how to respond to this.
12: 36 pm: 35-30, Wisconsin. Everyone on the Badgers is draining threes, it’s unbelievable, Pitt needs to improve the perimeter defense, but give some credit, the Badgers can really shoot, and that will be dangerous come tourney time.
12:37 pm: This is a really exciting game. Pitt and Wisconsin are really going at blow for blow. Pitt’s Ramon is hitting threes too.
12:39 pm: I hate to say it, but Alondo Tucker may be a better player than Tyler Hansbrough right now. This has really become a statement game for him.
Bizarre ad alert: Touchdown Chad Johnson.
12:43 pm: 45-35 Wisconsin. I just found out: the big guy hitting threes for the Badgers is Brian Butch, and he has 18 today. You gotta love it when a big guy hits shots from outside; it creates the ultimate mismatch.
(Photo: Can you believe this guy is having his way with the Pitt defense?)
12:45 pm: Tucker has even even made good steals and rebounds. Wisconsin has dominated the last several minutes of this game, and the crowd has started to get intimidating.
I just found out that Wisconsin will play Ohio State January 9th. You can bet I’m blogging that.
12:48 pm: The half ends, 47-37 Wisconsin. I expected Tucker to have a good day, but I doubt that anyone expected Brian Butch to have his coming out party today. The two have combined for 40 out of 47 points for the Badgers. What a game so far!
Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan is just as surprised as we are. I think he may soil himself from sheer excitement.
12:54 pm: I just saw a really funny local ad; it’s too bad I cant link to it. The premise: University GM-“The Carfather”. Don’t ask me about my business.
1:03 pm: What’s The Big Ten doing advertising with Talib Kweli? More importantly, what’s Talib Kweli doing advertising the Big Ten? What happened to street cred? I guess it goes away when you have to pay the bills.
1:05 pm: There are a few Pitt players in foul trouble. This is very useful for Wisconsin’s gameplan for the rest of the game, especially if the three pointers go cold.
1:08 pm: 50-39, Wisconsin. This is one of those rare moments in the game when not much is happening.
1:10 pm: Aaron Gray is having a decent game, but it seems like the flu is affecting him; he looks very fatigued.
1:13 pm: This first part of the second half has been shockingly uneventful. I did not need to know that Alondo Tucker likes to sing in practice. But they’re going to cram it into my brain, I’m going to cram it into yours.
1:16 pm: My family has converge in the room to distract me from blogging as much as possible. It’s very frustrating. My sister’s talking very loudly directly into my ear. 57-47, Wisconsin.
1:18 pm: Pitt is being dominated in the paint. I really did not expect this, but then again nobody else expected Brian Butch to score 25 points.
1:21 pm: Pitt coach Jamie Dixon is very, very frustrated with the play of his team right now. He looks like a screaming alien sporting a toupee right now.
1:25 pm: 63-49, Wisconsin. The Badgers are really dominating the paint. Where’s Ronald Ramon when the Panthers need him?
Just as I say that, Ramon hits a three. 63-52.
1:28 pm: The game has started to get a little sloppy. Pitt needs to take advantage of this, and soon.
Gray is stating to make an impact. He has 15 points and has given one Wisconsin’s big men four fouls.
1:30 pm: 65-55, Wisconsin. It looks like the threes have gone cold in the second half, which may explain the need to force the ball inside, which in turn explains why the game is sloppier. The two teams are now better able to anticipate each other.
1:35 pm: Here’s something I didn’t expect: Alondo Tucker has gone cold in the second half. Ten minutes have elapsed and he only has two points, both free throws.
1:37 pm: My sister is fully aware that I am tying to blog, and yet she cannot bring herself to stop talking right into my ear. What’s even worse? I am deeply interested in what she’s discussing. So I guess everything works out.
1:40 pm: The guy who has picked up the slack since Tucker has gone cold in the first half: Kammron Taylor. He went scoreless in the first half and has 12 in the second with 8 minutes to go.
Which jewelry ad is worse: Zales with the White Chicks song, Kay with the corny stories, or “He went to Jared”? This would be a debate for the ages.
1:45 pm: A great shot and a great rebound later, Tucker is looking good again. 76-61 Wisconsin. Pitt looks like they’re starting to panic.
1:46 pm: Brian Butch comes back in the game. The Badgers have done what was thought impossible. They have bullied Pitt in the paint.
1:48 pm: Holy Crap, what a shot by Tucker! He was in the paint, ran to the perimeter, tuned around and drained a three. 80-63, Wisconsin.
1:49 pm: Looks like the Badgers have this one wrapped up. Who would have thought Butch vs. Oden would be an intriguing matchup on Jan. 9?
1:52 pm: Pitt isn’t giving up yet, but too much Alondo Tucker. He has 29 now. 83-69, Wisconsin.
1:55 pm: I’m disappointed that none of the players in this game has interesting hair. Good thing that Bo Ryan’s gray, slicked back, receding hair hair is enough bad hair for his whole team.
2:00 pm: I was wrong about Bo Ryan’s surprise about Brian Butch. Turns out he has that “I’m about to soil myself” look all the time.
2:15 pm: The game goes final: 89-75, Wisconsin ruins Pitt’s perfect record. Wisconsin won this game by beating Pitt at the Panthers’ strength: the paint. Other than Gray, the inside presence was almost nonexistent. That’s why I won’t give my game ball to Alondo Tucker, but to the surprise of the game, Brian Butch. He had 27 points and 10 rebounds and surprised everyone who watched him. If he can play like that all season, there is no ceiling for the Badgers. They can go deep into March.