The 10th ranked Florida men’s basketball team will have its hands full when it faces the number 22/20 Wisconsin Badgers out of the Big Ten tonight. The schools have only met two other times and split both those meetings. This game is part of a tough non-conference schedule the Gators will play with teams like FSU, Arizona, and Marquette still to play.
Wisconsin comes to the O’Connell Center as a big, physical team with a projected starting lineup that includes two big men in forward/centers Jared Berggren and Frank Kaminsky. While Kaminsky received very little playing time last year as a freshman, the senior Berggren is picking up right where he left off last season. He had 19 points to go along with eight rebounds and four blocks in Wisconsin’s season opening win over Southeastern Louisiana. The duo could possibly give the two tallest starters for Florida a rough night. Senior forward Erik Murphy is the tallest projected starter at 6’10″ and junior center Patric Young is at 6’9″ while Berggren and Kaminsky are both 6’10″ and 6’11″ respectively. However, the size matchup in the paint does not worry Florida head coach Billy Donovan.
Donovan and company will try to rewrite history against Big Ten opponents overall. The Gators are just 7-8 all-time against the conference with six of those losses coming in regular season play. Of course Donovan wants to get back to .500 and win in the Big Ten for the first time since beating Michigan State nearly three years ago. The Gator coach is also passionate about having huge regular season showdowns with other conferences and says he uses these types of games as a way to please the fans.
The Gators may be currently ranked higher than the Badgers in both the AP and USA Today Coaches poll, but missed games and missed pratctices are already hitting this young Florida squad. Murphy has stayed physically healthy all offseason, but has stayed out of practice these last few days due to flu like symptoms. However, he is still listed as the probable starter for Wednesday’s game. Guard Scottie Wilbekin’s status for the game looks even more bleak. The junior was suspended prior to the Goergetown game that was called early and hasn’t played since. Coach Donovan insists that Wilbekin will sit this one as well.
Wilbekin isn’t the only one not gearing up for the game. Forward Casey Prather continues to battle concussion symptoms after sustaining his second blow to the head this past offseason on November 5th during practice. Donovan has no clue when Prather will be back to full health, but understands the team is in a bad spot only being able to use eight eligible players during current practice.
Wisconsin also has injury issues after losing its starting point guard for the season and two relatively untested younger players will have to fill the void for the Badgers.
You can hear the Florida-Wisconsin game tonight on ESPN Radio 850/900, 100.1 FM Ocala starting at 6:25 pm.