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Truth or myth... Badgers top 10 non-conference schedule?

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Every year when schedules are announced, fans and experts alike quickly analyze the lineup of games and make judgments about the schedule's toughness.

It's a natural reaction and we all do it. We go down the list game-by-game and say: "easy win, tough game, easy win, easy win, tough game, toss-up, no chance, easy win, etc."

081223MBB-6210-30_sm.jpgWe all try to determine whether the schedule is easy, hard or somewhere in the middle. That's how we pass the time and fill our water cooler discussions when we're still two months from tip-off.

The thing that often goes unrecognized, is that this preseason ritual is based off of the previous' results and hype surrounding each opponent. The real measure of a schedule should be done after the season when you can analyze how each opponent performed instead of how each opponent was supposed to perform.

"Schools can never really be sure how their non-league opponents will fare in a given season," ESPN.com's Joe Lunardi wrote recently. "Teams can schedule so-called "up" games in tournaments, home-and-home series, one-way road trips, etc., and said opponents can underachieve for any number of reasons."

Using Wisconsin as an example, last season provided two terrific examples of how unpredictable scheduling can be. At the time UW faced Notre Dame in the championship game of the Old Spice Classic, the Irish were not even receiving votes in the AP poll and were largely predicted to finish anywhere from seventh to 10th in the Big East. Notre Dame went on to go 27-7 and finish second in the rugged conference.

On the flip side, UW's dance partner in the 2010 Big Ten/ACC Challenge was NC State, an up-and-coming team that entered the season with a returning all-conference pick, a top-ranked recruiting class and as a lock for a top-half finish in the ACC. Instead, the season unraveled quickly (including an 87-48 loss at the Kohl Center) and led to head coach Sidney Lowe's resignation and a 15-16 record.

Notre Dame or NC State from 2011 illustrate that predicting the future is a difficult exercise. The real analysis of a schedule should come when the nets are being cut down at the Final Four.

With that in mind, Lunardi recently examined the schedules of every BCS team over the last four seasons based on results, not predictions. He ranked the schools that have played the toughest non-conference schedules over that span and revealed that Wisconsin has played the ninth-toughest slate on that list.

So... truth or myth, Wisconsin plays weak non-conference schedules? The proof is in the numbers:

Nonconference SOS (Last four seasons)

School (Avg Rank) 2011 2010 2009 2008
1. Tennessee 19.50 3 71 1 3
2. Georgetown 33.50 2 4 7 121
3. Arizona 36.75 46 20 77 4
4. Duke 44.50 47 42 50 39
5. Michigan State 47.50 17 105 22 46
6. Connecticut 52.00 38 6 105 59
7. Syracuse 52.00 126 34 28 20
8. Michigan 55.75 52 103 53 15
9. Wisconsin 59.00 111 29 42 54
10. Pittsburgh 61.50 94 47 15 90
West Virginia 61.50 4 26 60 156

Cradle of All-Americans: Kansas, Kentucky... Wisconsin?

Quick... which schools have had the most All-Americans in college basketball history?

Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina... yep, those are no brainers. What about Duke? Sure. UCLA? Of course. Wisconsin?
Harper_Carl_1913_sm.jpg
That's right, Wisconsin. While adding Jordan Taylor (AP second-team) to the All-American section of the Wisconsin men's basketball record book, I unearthed some information that, quite simply, blew me away. Try this on for size.

Only Kansas and Kentucky have had more men's basketball All-Americans than Wisconsin.

According the NCAA Official Record Book, Wisconsin has had 17 individuals earn a total of 20 consensus first-team All-America honors. UW's 17 All-Americans ranks third among all Div. I schools and the Badgers' 20 All-America honors ranks seventh all-time.

Here are the numbers:
 
TOTAL INDIVIDUAL CONSENSUS 1ST-TEAM ALL-AMERICANS
Team                   Individuals
1. Kansas                   20
2. Kentucky                18
3. Wisconsin              17
4. North Carolina          16
    Purdue                    16
6. Duke                       15
7. Penn                       14
    UCLA                      14
9. Columbia                 13
    Notre Dame             13

TOTAL CONSENSUS 1ST-TEAM ALL-AMERICA HONORS
Team                All-Americans
1. Kansas                   27
2. North Carolina         25
3. Purdue                   24
    Penn                      24
5. Kentucky                23
6. Notre Dame             22
7. Wisconsin               20
    UCLA                     20
9. Columbia                19
10. Duke                    18

Granted, most of UW's All-Americans came in the early 1900s, but still... an All-American is an All-American. If UW ever decides to hang jerseys in the rafters, it would get pretty crowded in the Kohl Center. Here is the honor roll:

1905 - C.D. McLees, Chris Steinmetz, Sr.*
1907 - Frank Arthur
1908 - Hugh Harper, Helmer Swenholt
1909 - Helmer Swenholt
1911 - Walter Scoville
1912 - Otto Stangel*
1913 - Allen Johnson
1914 - Carl Harper, Eugene Van Gent
1915 - George Levis
1916 - William Chandler, George Levis*
1917 - Harold Olsen
1918 - William Chandler*, Eber Simpson
1941 - Gene Englund
1942 - John Kotz
2007 - Alando Tucker

* Helms Foundation National Player of the Year

Former Badger Markolf lands at UIW

MBB_110816_Markolf_Ian.jpgCame across this article in my news feed recently about former Wisconsin big-man Ian Markolf. The 7-foot center from San Antonio has apparently decided to return to basketball and will play for NCAA Division II school Incarnate Word in San Antonio.

Markolf spent two seasons on the Badger hoops team (2009 and '10) before leaving the program. He remained in school at UW during the 2010-11 academic year, but has now transferred closer to home.

"I just got the itch to play basketball and Incarnate Word seemed like the perfect fit for me," Markolf told television KENS in Texas. "I grew up playing with some of the guys on the team, and I started talking to them this spring about maybe transferring here.
 
"It turned out to be a pretty simple process. Incarnate Word has a great academic program, and I think I'll have a chance at some great business opportunities when I graduate. I'm also going to get the chance to play basketball with a great group of guys."

Badgers to play finale headliner of Big Ten/ACC Challenge

ESPN has finalized the network and time assignments for the 13th annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge Presented by DICK'S Sporting Goods to be played Nov. 29-30. Wisconsin will play in the final game of the challenge when it travels to North Carolina on Wed. Nov. 30. The game is scheduled to start at 8:30 p.m (CT) and will be televised on ESPN.

BIG TEN ACC CHALLENGE LOGO.jpgThe 2011 Challenge involves six teams ranked in an early preseason top 25 by ESPN.com senior college basketball writer Andy Katz, including three in the top five: No. 1 North Carolina, No. 3 Ohio State, No. 5 Duke, No. 11 Wisconsin, No. 21 Florida State and No. 23 Michigan.

The Big Ten won the Commissioner's Cup for the second consecutive year while the ACC won the previous 10 Challenges. In the event of a 6-6 tie this year, the Commissioner's Cup will remain with the conference that won the previous year.

The Badgers own the most wins of any Big Ten team in the Challenge with six and share the top winning percentage (6-6, .500) with Ohio State (5-5, .500) in Challenge games.

2011 Big Ten/ACC Challenge schedule:

Date                 Time (ET)  Game                                                         Network
Tue, Nov 29       7 p.m.        No. 23 Michigan at Virginia                            ESPN2
                        7:15 p.m.    Northwestern at Georgia Tech                        ESPNU
                        7:30 p.m.    Illinois at Maryland                                        ESPN
                        9 p.m.        Miami at Purdue                                            ESPN2
                        9:15 p.m.    Clemson at Iowa                                           ESPNU
                        9:30 p.m.    No. 5 Duke at No. 3 Ohio State                      ESPN
Wed, Nov 30     7:15 p.m.    Indiana at North Carolina State                        ESPN2
                        7:15 p.m.    Penn State at Boston College                         ESPNU
                        7:30 p.m.    No. 21 Florida St. at Michigan St.                   ESPN
                        9:15 p.m.    Virginia Tech at Minnesota                              ESPN2
                        9:15 p.m.     Wake Forest at Nebraska                              ESPNU
                        9:30 p.m.    No. 11 Wisconsin at No. 1 North Carolina    ESPN

Bruesewitz loose in Estonia

Between games, Mike Bruesewitz and his East Coast All-Star teammates have had a chance to explore Tallinn, Estonia. Here are a few pictures sent back to the homeland.

1.) Bruesewitz poses with his Big Ten teammates in Old Town. L to R: Anthony Johnson (Pur.), Matt Gatens (Iowa), Bryce Cartwright (Iowa), Bruesewitz and Elliott Eliason (Minn.).

Bruesewitz_Mike_Estonia_110804.jpg
2.) Bruesewitz finds he's too tall for this Estonian doorway.

Bruesewitz_Mike_Estonia_110806.jpg3.) Mike stops to pose a fellow red-head outside of a store in Tallinn.

Bruesewitz_Mike_Estonia_110807.jpg

Late rally not enough for All-Stars

Mike Bruesewitz's team, the East Coast All-Stars, have begun play in the Four Nations Cup in Estonia. East Coach All-Stars coach Guy Rancourt emailed this update after Game Two of the tournament.

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_MG_0172_copy.jpgAs the team ran through the tunnel entering Saku Arena this evening they were welcomed by a group of Estonian teenagers waving an American flag. The crowd of 3,100 Estonians applauded the team's effort from the previous night, but despite airhorns blowing, fans cheering, and holding NBA veteran Zaza Pachulia to just one field goal for the game, the East Coast All Stars came up short Friday night. A 15-0 All Star run in the fourth quarter gave the group of Americans a 4 point deficit with 2:00 remaining, but the Georgian National Team countered with a 13-0 run of their own, resulting in a 98-81 East Coast defeat.
 
Rodney McGruder (K-State) once again came out ready to play pouring in 22 points and grabbing 14 rebounds to lead the team in both categories. From the start the game was physical and fast as Georgia, the only participant eligible for the 2011 European World Championships, ran out to a quick 9 point lead. The East Coast front line of Jack Cooley (Notre Dame) and Elliott Eliason (Minnesota) responded on the glass to help end the quarter on an 11-2 run, knotting the game at 20-20.
 
The second quarter continued providing runs on both sides as the tandem of McGruder and Mike Bruesewitz (Wisconsin) hit the offensive glass hard for some easy baskets, but Georgia had the final run to open up a 49-42 halftime lead.
 
Early in the 3rd quarter Baye Moussa Keita was subbed out for precautionary reasons due to a minor foot injury, but enough to keep him sidelined for the remainder of the contest. With fouls mounting and the team short-handed Georgia was able to open its lead to 73-64.
 
Georgia again came out quickly to open up a 19 point lead with 7:34 left in the game. Anthony Johnson (Purdue) and Brandon Triche (Syracuse) then found a rhythm and combined for an 8-0 run cutting the lead to 11 points. On the next possession Cooley again came up with a big defensive rebound, receiving an elbow to the face that drew a foul and stopped play. Cooley's small cut under his eye forced him to check out briefly, but all that did was open the door for Iowa's Matt Gatens. Gatens made both free throws for Cooley, then followed with another transition basket to keep the run alive. The feisty All Stars hung tough chipping away at the Georgian lead and had the ball in their hands down 85-81 but simply ran out of gas.
 
Manuchar Markoishvilli lead the Georgian National Team in scoring with 20 points and Pachulia of the NBA Atlanta Hawks led them in rebounding with 9.
 
The team will head into its final game of the Four Nations Cup against tournament host Estonia tomorrow evening. Game time will be 1:00PM EST and televised on Estonia's ETV2.
 
Anthony Johnson - 6 pts, 2 reb
Matt Gatens - 5 pts, 2 reb, 1 ast, 1 stl
Baye Moussa Keita - 1 reb
Brandon Triche - 12 pts, 2 reb, 1 ast, 2 stl
Pe'Shon Howard - 6 pts, 1 reb, 2 ast, 1 stl
Rodney McGruder - 22 pts, 14 reb, 3 stl
Bryce Cartwright - 11 pts, 2 reb, 3 ast, 1 stl
Mike Bruesewitz - 10 pts, 4 reb, 1 stl (Fouled Out)
Jack Cooley - 7 pts, 9 reb, 1 stl
Elliott Eliason - 2 pts, 5 reb, 1 ast

All-Stars win thriller at buzzer

Mike Bruesewitz's team, the East Coast All-Stars, have begun play in the Four Nations Cup in Estonia. East Coach All-Stars coach Guy Rancourt emailed this update after Friday's opening game.

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Although Pe'Shon Howard's thunderous dunk over Sweden National team center Johan Akesson put the crowd into a frenzy Friday evening, it was just a brief part of the 15-point deficit the East Coast All Stars overcame in the final 3:00 of Friday's 78-77 victory. Kansas State's Rodney McGruder was the team's hero as time ran down with a rebound and put back at the buzzer to seal the All Star win.
 
East Coast responded well to the physical nature of international play ending the first quarter with a 21-19 lead, but struggled to find the mark in the second quarter mustering just 11 points to trail Sweden 38-32 at halftime. Sweden continued its hot shooting in the third period stretching the lead to 63-51, and things began looking bleak as the lead ballooned to 15 points with 3:00 remaining in the contest...then the All Stars went to work.
 
A suffucating full court press was applied causing back to back turnovers for a Baye Moussa Keita dunk and a power layup by Notre Dame's Jack Cooley cutting the lead to 11. The team continued its intensity into the front court forcing two additional turnovers resulting in clutch 3-point field goals by Iowa's Matt Gatens and Purdue's Anthony Johnson, bringing the Sweden lead to 5 with just over a minute to play.
 
Following a Sweden transition basket pushing the lead back to 7, East Coast came up with a steal at half court by Maryland's Pe'Shon Howard, and a dunk over the opponent's big man that brought the crowd of 3,720 jumping out of their seats.
 
The balanced attack continued as the All Stars forced three more turnovers, allowing Syracuse's Brandon Triche (leading scorer with 17 points) to rattle off 7 points in 19 seconds. Triche was fouled on a drive to make two free throws, knocked down a gutsy 3-point shot to tie the game at 74-74, then converted on a mid-lane pullup to give them the lead with 15 seconds remaining.
 
Sweden responded with Anton Gaddefor's 3-pointer with 6 seconds to play, once again giving Sweden a 77-76 advantage. After a timeout by head coach Guy Rancourt of Lycoming College, McGruder stepped on the floor to provide the end-game heroics. Triche's foul-line jumper was off the mark, but UW's Mike Bruesewitz kept the ball alive, tipping it to McGruder who laid it back in as the horn sounded.
 
Three players, Bruesewitz, Baye Moussa Keita, and Elliott Eliason led the team in rebounding with 7. Triche finished with a team high 5 assists, Bruesewitz with 4 steals, and Mousa Keita with 2 blocks.
 
The victory makes the East Coast All Stars 1-0 in tournament play and 2-0 overall. Next up tomorrow night will be one of the team's biggest tests as they face NBA star Zaza Pachulia and the Georgia National Team. Gametime for tomorrow's contest is slated for 10:30 a.m. CT.
 
Anthony Johnson - 8 pts, 2 reb, 1 ast, 1 stl
Matt Gatens - 10 pts, 3 reb, 2 ast, 2 stl
Baye Moussa Keita - 6 pts, 7 reb, 1 stl, 2 blk (fouled out)
Brandon Triche - 17 pts, 5 reb, 5 ast, 1 stl
Pe'Shon Howard - 6 pts, 3 reb, 2 ast, 2 stl
Rodney McGruder - 10 pts, 4 reb, 3 stl
Bryce Cartwright - 4 pts, 1 reb, 3 ast, 1stl
Mike Bruesewitz - 9 pts, 1 ast, 7 reb, 4 stl
Jack Cooley - 4 pts, 4 reb, 1 stl
Elliott Eliason - 4 pts, 7 reb, 1 ast, 1 stl

Mike's take on first game, other randomness

Here is a Facebook message I got from Mike talking about the opening exhibition win and what's up next.

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"We had a scrimmage against a local club team last night. The town was called Rapla (I remember the name because it sounds like the fishing tackle).

_MG_0215_copy.jpgUpon arrival to the equivalent of a lifetime, the song "Buzzin" by Mann was on. One thing about Estonia is they love American music. This isn't a bad thing, but it seems a bit odd since our tour guide told us Estonia is known as 'the singing country.'

Anyway... last night played a club team and won easily. We have one practice today and then we go against the big boys tomorrow. Should be great competition.

Talking with a couple of the guys last night, last year's East Coast team played two national teams that had NBA guys. Not sure who all is going to be on the roster this year, but I'm really excited to play.

The arena has about 5 or 6 thousand seats and apparently gets filled up for events like these. Should be fun!"


Bruiser leads all-star squad to first win in Estonia

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East Coast All-Stars' head coach Guy Rancourt (Lycoming College) emailed me this morning the recap from the team's first game. Looks like our guy Mike Bruesewitz is fitting in quite nicely.

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110201MBB-3217-31_crop.jpgRapla, Estonia --  In what will be the team's only exhibition game for 2011, the East Coast All Stars defeated Viimsi Spordikeskuss 104-61 Wednesday evening in front of a crowd of 1,100. The All Stars were led by Syracuse sophomore Baye Moussa Keita with 11 points, 17 rebounds, and 4 blocked shots. Iowa's Matt Gatens and Wisconsin's Mike Bruesewitz led all scorers, each with 15 points.
 
Viimsi struggled with East Coast's pressure defense from the start, quickly falling behind 34-15 by the end of the first quarter. Brandon Triche of Syracuse University handed out 7 first half assists to help push the lead to 66-28 at the half. Kansas State sophomore Rodney McGruder extended that lead with back to back three point field goals in the third period, stretching the team's margin to 88-41. Viimsi made a late push behind Andre Parn's 11 points, but it was not enough to help his team overcome the 104-61 final. Seven players tallied double figures for the All Stars and each of the ten man roster scored at least one basket.
 
East Coast will hold a brief practice in Tallinn's Saku Arena Thursday night in final preparation for their matchup Friday(11:30AM EST) with the Sweden National Team.
 
INDIVIDUAL STATS
Anthony Johnson - 8 pts, 4 reb, 3 ast
Matt Gatens - 15 pts, 5 reb, 3 ast, 4 stl
Baye Moussa Keita - 11 pts, 17 reb, 4 blk, 1 stl
Brandon Triche - 13 pts, 7 ast, 3 stl, 1 reb
Pe'Shon Howard - 11 pts, 3 stl, 1 reb, 1 stl
Rodney McGruder - 13 pts, 2 reb, 2 stl, 1 ast
Bryce Cartwright - 10 pts, 4 ast, 3 stl, 1 reb
Mike Bruesewitz - 15 pts, 7 reb, 3 ast, 1 stl, 1 blk
Jack Cooley - 3 pts, 5 reb, 2 ast, 5 fouls (fouled out)
Elliott Eliason - 5 pts, 5 reb, 2 stl, 1 ast, 1 blk

Bruesewitz checks in from Estonia

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I heard from Mike Bruesewitz over in Estonia. Sounds like his team (the East Coast All-Stars) made it safely to Tallinn and did a little sight-seeing before practice.

Here is what Bruiser had to say:

"The first day was good and the food isn't too bad. However, the day's worth of airplane food didn't end well. Estonia is a pretty cool place. Tallinn is right on the coast line with all kinds of neat shops and restaurants in Old Town. The Old Town area is really cool with cobble stone streets and old buildings. It reminds me of a medieval state street on steroids. We have our first exhibition game (Wednesday) afternoon, but first we have a sight seeing tour."
ON WISCONSIN