Wisconsin demonstrated some fancy footwork in order to make sure that it was playing basketball on Wednesday in Madison.
The new dance partner for the 13th-ranked Badgers (3-1) is Rhode Island (3-2), which fills the void following the postponement of Wisconsin’s initially scheduled game against the No. 25 Louisville Cardinals. Louisville indefinitely paused all team-related activities last week due to a positive COVID-19 test.
So, welcome the Rams … and Wisconsin coach Greg Gard couldn’t be happier.
“To be able to get Rhode Island at the 11th hour like this, a really good team, a really good program, terrific players, I think that is about as good as it could get given the short notice we had to work with,” Gard said, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Gard revealed that it wasn’t easy, especially considering the issues associated with other potential opponents. Those potential foes included Tennessee and UConn, or even shuffling next week’s game with Northern Iowa.
“There are just so many moving parts with this thing and it is constantly changing,” Gard said. “Every time I check my phone I see somebody else is delayed or canceled or moved. We’re trying to play as many games against the best competition we can find.
“But probably more than ever, just trying to get a schedule together trumps what that schedule at the end of the day is going to look like. Because it’s not going to look like we intended.”
The Badgers fell nine spots in the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll following Friday’s 67-65 setback to in-state rival Marquette; they’re now tied with Texas at No. 13.
D’Mitrik Trice sank a jumper to give Wisconsin a 65-64 lead with 5.8 seconds left. However, he committed a foul at the other end of the court that gave Marquette its last-gasp opportunity.
Nate Reuvers, who averages a team-best 14.0 points, finished with just 11 while being plagued by foul trouble versus Marquette.
Micah Potter had just nine points after erupting for 33 on 12-of-17 shooting in his previous two games. Potter is averaging 12.8 points and a team-high 6.5 rebounds this season while Trice has a club-best 3.8 assists to go with his own 11.8 points a game.
Wisconsin wasn’t the only team looking for a game this week. Rhode Island found itself in the same situation after Saturday’s contest at Boston College was called off.
“We knew going into the year that this season would be unlike any other,” Rams athletic director said. “This is a fantastic opportunity that came together quickly, and we are grateful to Wisconsin for its willingness to work together to make it happen.”
Fatts Russell had 17 points to pace four players in double figures for Rhode Island, which posted its third win in a row with a 76-63 victory over Seton Hall last week. Russell averages team-leading totals in points (17.6), assists (3.6), and steals (2.2).
Ishmael Leggett recorded his second successive 11-point performance after making all four of his shot attempts. For his efforts, Leggett was named the Atlantic 10 rookie of the week on Monday.
–Field Level Media