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What to know about Wisconsin men’s basketball as it heads to the Battle 4 Atlantis

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The University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team left the snow for the Caribbean to compete in the Battle 4 Atlantis in Nassau, Bahamas.

The Badgers are 3-0 but will have their toughest test yet Wednesday against Dayton. UW also will play Thursday and Friday in the tournament.

Dayton was the only Atlantic 10 team to earn a preseason ranking, checking in at 24 in the AP Top 25, but fell out of the rankings after its loss to UNLV last week. The Flyers have struggled from 3-point range, making 29.5% of their shots, but opponents are only making 26.7% of their attempts. 

UW and Dayton are coming off wins. The Badgers defeated UW-Green Bay 56-45 last Tuesday and Dayton beat Robert Morris 60-51 on Saturday. 

The basics

What: Wisconsin (3-0) vs. Dayton (3-1).

When: 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Where: Imperial Arena in Paradise Island, Nassau, Bahamas.

TV: ESPN, with Jon Sciambi and Jimmy Dykes.

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

Last meeting: This is the teams' first meeting.

Wisconsin 

Fast fact: The Badgers won the Battle 4 Atlantis in 2014 and finished as runner-up in 2018.

Coach: Greg Gard, 147-78, in his eighth season at UW.

Probable starters:

Player;Height;Weight;Year;Position;PPG

Steven Crowl;7-0;245;Jr.;Center;10.0

Jordan Davis;6-4;200;Jr.;Guard;10.0

Chucky Hepburn;6-2;205;So.;Guard;11.0

Max Klesmit;6-3;200;Jr.;Guard;6.7

Tyler Wahl;6-9;225;Sr.;Forward;14.7

Key rotational players: 

Connor Essegian;6-4;185;Fr.;Guard;5.3

Carter Gilmore;6-7;225;Jr.;Forward;3.0

Kamari McGee;6-0;180;So.;Guard;0

Jahcobi Neath;6-4;190;Sr.;Guard;1.0

Player to watch: Hepburn shot 2-for-14 against UW-Green Bay. He is shooting 32.4% from the field.

The Badgers run drills during a practice Tuesday in Paradise Island, Bahamas ahead of Wednesday's matchup with Dayton.

Dayton

Fast fact: Dayton’s only trip to Paradise Island was in 2018. The Flyers lost to Virginia, which went on to beat UW for the title. 

Coach: Anthony Grant, 105-53 in his sixth season.

Probable starters:

Player;Height;Weight;Year;Position;PPG

Kobe Elvis;6-2;170;R-So.;Guard;11.3

DaRon Holmes II;6-10;231;So.;Forward;13.3

R.J. Blakney;6-6;195;R-So.;Guard;7.0

Toumani Camara;6-8;220;Jr.;Forward;7.3

Malachi Smith;6-0;180;So.;Guard;5.0

Key rotational players: 

Mustapha Amzil;6-9;224;R-So.;Forward;12.3

Zimi Nwokeji;6-7;210;R-So.;Forward;1.8

Mike Sharavjamts;6-8;180;Fr.;Guard/Forward;9.3

Koby Brea;6-6;206;R-So.;Guard;6.0

Player to watch: Holmes was named Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year last season after leading the Flyers with 12.8 points per game. 

Three things to watch

Return of Smith 

Sophomore guard Malachi Smith injured his ankle three weeks before Dayton’s season opener. The injury sidelined him for the first three games, but he returned to play 21 minutes Saturday against Robert Morris.

Smith had a standout freshman year, starting 29 games before a season-ending injury against Richmond on March 12. He averaged 9.3 points while leading the team in minutes per game at 31.0. He also led the team with 175 assists (6.0 per game) and earned a spot on the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie team.

He was named to the preseason all-conference second team and defensive team. 

Front-court showdown

The matchup between UW’s Wahl and Dayton’s Holmes will be intriguing. Wahl is the leading scorer for the Badgers and Holmes is Dayton’s No. 2 scorer. 

Holmes is a dominant post player who averages 54.3% from the field. Most of his points come from within the paint, so UW will try to limit his post presence and force him to pass or turn over the ball. That plan worked for UNLV, which held Holmes to two points on 1-for-5 shooting and four turnovers in the Flyers’ 60-52 loss.

Wahl also has a significant post presence with all but one of his 13 field goals coming down low. He is shooting at 37.1% but has the ability to hit 3-pointers — he’s gone 1-for-6 from behind the arc this season.

Both players are considered their team’s best defenders per their coaches, so it’s expected they will defend each other. 

The rest of the field

The Badgers open against Dayton then play either NC State or Kansas on Thursday. The Wolfpack were picked to finish 10th in the Atlantic Coast Conference after going 11–21 overall and 4–16 in league play last season. They return Terquavion Smith, who averaged 20.0 points last season. 

Kansas went 14-4 in Big 12 play and 34-6 overall en route to the national championship. The No. 3 Jayhawks are 4-0 with a notable win over then-No. 7 Duke, 69-64 on Nov. 15. 

The other side of the bracket is made up of Tennessee, BYU, Butler and Tennessee. The Badgers will play one of these four teams Friday. 

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