Boise St.-Wisconsin Preview
Game-planning for Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker was already enough of a nightmare. Add Nigel Hayes' emergence to the mix and it's hard to imagine opposing coaches getting much rest when preparing to face Wisconsin.
Boise State has an experienced, talented backcourt that could test the third-ranked Badgers on Saturday night, but Bo Ryan's big men could be too much for the Broncos to handle as Wisconsin looks to continue its non-conference dominance at the Kohl Center.
Kaminsky and Dekker appear to have taken another step forward after helping guide the Badgers to the Final Four last season, each averaging at least 17.0 points through Wisconsin's first three wins in November.
Kaminsky, the Big Ten's preseason player of the year, has had at least 15 points and 10 rebounds in each game - most recently exploding for 20 points, 15 rebounds and seven blocks Wednesday in an 84-60 win over Green Bay.
And he isn't the only Badger capable of double-doubles.
Hayes, the conference's reigning sixth man of the year, is adjusting to his starting role nicely. After grabbing 10 boards in the opener and going for 15 and 10 Sunday against Chattanooga, the sophomore scored 25 and tracked down 11 rebounds against the Phoenix.
"The confidence on the court comes from the hard work you put in in the offseason," Hayes said. "If you don't put in the work, you go out there and you're hesitant and not sure. But I made sure I put in the time in the offseason, and now I'm just going out there and having fun."
All three members of Wisconsin's starting frontcourt are shooting better than 55 percent. Hayes, who didn't have a single 3-point attempt as a freshman, has knocked down three of five from beyond the arc.
"It's just another year older, another year wiser is my answer," Ryan said. "He's another year better, and look out. He's young yet."
Boise State is also 3-0 despite one member of its senior backcourt struggling to get going after missing the season opener for a violation of team rules.
But even with Derrick Marks totaling just 16 points on 4-of-14 shooting in the two games he's played, Anthony Drmic has stepped up. Drmic averaged a team-high 15.9 points last season - one more than Marks - but he put up 29 while playing 47 minutes Tuesday in a 72-67 double-overtime win against Montana.
He also took a hard fall, but Drmic was less concerned with the pain and more worried about the Badgers.
"It's going to be a tough game," Drmic said. "I've watched them play a little bit and they're a really good defensive team. They hold teams to 30-40 points, they're one of the better defensive teams out there."
Drmic isn't just handing out empty compliments. Wisconsin has held its first three opponents to 31.6 percent shooting and 45.3 points per game while sporting an absurd plus-18.7 rebounding margin.
About the only thing the Badgers have done poorly so far is shoot free throws. Wisconsin has hit just 66.3 percent from the stripe so far after knocking down 74.6 percent - 10th-best among NCAA tournament teams - last season.
Boise State, which has been outrebounded in its past two games, only gives regular minute to one player taller than 6-foot-8.
The Badgers have won 64 of 65 home games against unranked, non-conference foes since 2006, but the Broncos were awfully pesky against Top 25 teams last season.
Boise State lost by 15 at Kentucky in December, but their other four losses against ranked opponents came by a combined 12 points.