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Wisconsin Opponent Preview: Grambling

How They Are Doing So Far:

For programs like Grambling November and December are about bankrolling the athletics program with road games and preparing for conference play. Grambling has done both. The 6-6 Tigers are the only SWAC team anywhere close to a .500 record and they have three Division I wins over Niagara, Portland and Southeastern Louisiana. That is a hugely successful November and December for a team like Grambling and they have clearly cemented their status among the teams to beat in the SWAC.

 

Last Time Out:

On Wednesday Grambling made a rare trip home to take on Southeastern Louisiana. Coming off their win in Portland three days earlier, the team took a lot of momentum to the home floor. And it paid off with a tight 69-68 victory. Ivy Smith made two clutch free-throws with four seconds left to clinch the victory. The Tigers were down a dozen points with less than eight minutes remaining, but went on a big run to come back from the brink of defeat. It was Smith who led the way with 17 points, with 11 of those coming from the charity stripe. Prince Moss added 14 points and wing Dallas Polk-Hilliard scored 13.

 

Who To Watch:

Ivy Smith was an All-SWAC honoree as a sophomore and is looking to pick up his game even more in 2018-2019. The 6-0 guard is averaging 10.2 points, 4.6 assists and 1.4 steals so far this year and those numbers will only get better when the schedule eases up. Smith does most of his scoring inside the arc, but last year he was at least a consistent threat to shoot from outside. This year his shooting has been very inconsistent and he needs to find his stroke sooner or later. In 11 games that he has played in this year, Smith is shooting just 26.7 percent from three-point land 30.8 percent from the floor. It is going to take a much better effort than that to capitalize on the few scoring opportunities Grambling will get against Wisconsin.

 

Who Else To Watch:

With Ivy Smith struggling to find his shot, Dallas Polk-Hilliard has turned into the team’s top scorer. The 6-7 transfer from South Dakota State has quickly turned into the top player on the team, averaging a team high 13.2 points and 6.0 rebounds. He has already tallied four double-doubles this season and there will be a lot more coming. However, Polk-Hilliard did have his worst game against Grambling’s toughest opponent this year, LSU. He played a season low 20 minutes and tallied just two points. In every other contest he has scored in double figures. The question is whether or not Polk-Hilliard can effectively get to the basket against a tough defense like Wisconsin.

 

Prediction:

Wisconsin will cruise to another easy victory. Grambling is a better team than Savannah State right now, who the Badgers crushed 101-60 last time out, so they should put up a better fight. But it will not be enough to make this a close game. It just might be a 31 point victory instead of a 41 point victory.

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