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No. 24 Wisconsin hosts upset-minded Chicago State

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No. 24 Wisconsin is well aware of the upset potential when it finishes its nonconference slate Friday night against Chicago State in Madison, Wis.

Wisconsin (8-3) has been idle since beating Jacksonville State 75-60 on Dec. 14. The Badgers bounced back after a 98-73 drubbing on Dec. 9 at then-No. 1 Arizona, which snapped their six-game winning streak.

“We don’t really care what the name on the jersey is,” Badgers forward Steven Crowl said after the Jacksonville State game. “We want to play Wisconsin basketball every time and do it to the best of our ability.”

Wisconsin is 5-1 at home this season. The Badgers average 73.6 points while allowing 66.0, but the margin includes road losses of 98-73 at Arizona and 72-59 at Providence.

AJ Storr averages a team-high 13.7 points, scoring in double figures in nine of 11 games. Crowl averages 12.7 points and a team-high 7.3 rebounds and Tyler Wahl adds 10.8 points and 5.9 boards.

The 7-foot Crowl and 6-9 Wahl combined for 35 points and 16 rebounds as the Badgers outscored Jacksonville State 40-20 in the paint. Wisconsin, which outrebounds opponents by 5.6 per game, is 12-1 all-time when Crowl leads the team in scoring.

“We knew we wanted to pound the ball inside,” Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said after beating the Gamecocks. “When you have a size advantage, you don’t want to get into a jump-shot contest all the time and let them neutralize what our advantage is of not playing through our bigs.”

Chicago State (7-9) already has one victory over a Big Ten opponent this season. The Cougars defeated then-No. 25 Northwestern 75-73 on Dec. 13, shortly after the Wildcats had upset top-ranked Purdue.

Chicago State has been busy since beating Northwestern. The Cougars won at Valparaiso 63-62 on Saturday; beat Texas-Rio Grande Valley 78-68 on Monday, and then edged Bethune-Cookman 55-54 on Wednesday night.

Wesley Cardet, who had 30 points against Northwestern and 28 against Valparaiso, averages 18.9 points per game and Jahsean Corbett adds 13.0 points and a team-high 7.0 rebounds.

Chicago State, whose tallest starter is 6-7, outrebounded Northwestern 29-27, but will have a tough time negating the Badgers’ size advantage.

Northwestern coach Chris Collins, whose team beat Wisconsin twice last season, was quick to credit Chicago State after the upset.

“You know they were prepared, they played with energy and every time we tried to get away from them a little bit they responded,” Collins said. “They made shots, they forced turnovers, they got in the open floor, they got to the basket. You have to give their kids a lot of credit.”

Wisconsin is 3-0 vs. Chicago State, most recently winning 82-70 on Dec. 27, 2017 at home. After Chicago State, the Badgers are off until Jan. 2 when they resume conference play against visiting Iowa.

–Field Level Media

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