Braves and Badgers battle in Chicago Invitational Challenge

The 11th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers hit the road for the first time tonight as they challenge the Bradley Braves as part of the Chicago Invitational Challenge at the Sears Centre.

Off to a 4-0 start for the fifth time in 11 seasons under the direction of head coach Bo Ryan and the first time since 2008-09, the Badgers have gone to 5-0 just once for coach Ryan (2007-08). The team has had an extremely easy road to this point, with opponents like Kennesaw State, Colgate, Wofford and UMKC occupying the early portion of the schedule.

As for the Braves, they too are hitting the road for the first time this season after starting out with a 3-1 mark under first-year head coach Geno Ford. Like Wisconsin, the first few games of the season for Bradley should have been quite easy, the team defeating UMKC, SEMO and North Dakota before bowing to Wofford on Tuesday as part of this tournament.

With respect to the all-time series between these two schools on the hardwood, the teams have split the first four meetings. Wisconsin captured a 63-57 triumph in the most recent encounter back in 1989.

The teams will be back in action on Saturday, matching up with Nevada and BYU based on the outcome of Friday's contests.

In the loss to Wofford at home a few nights ago, Dyricus Simms-Edwards connected on 8-of-16 shots from the field as he finished with a team-best 22 points, adding five rebounds, four steals and three assists, but it still wasn't enough as the Braves suffered their first setback of the campaign. Taylor Brown recorded a double-double for the hosts with 16 points and a team- high 11 rebounds, followed by Walt Lemon who squeezed out another 14 points in a starting role for a team that shot just 4-of-17 beyond the arc and 14-of-22 at the free-throw line in a close call. Brown is putting up strong numbers across the board for Bradley, from his 18.0 ppg to 8.8 rpg and 11 assists. Simms-Edwards (16.5 ppg) has demonstrated strong ball-handling skills at both ends of the floor with 12 assists and nine steals in four outings.

The defense for the Badgers thus far has been remarkable, holding all four opponents to less than 50 points which is a feat that hasn't been accomplished since 1949. Under coach Ryan the team is 64-1 when holding teams below 50 points and at this stage of the campaign the winning margin for the Badgers (40.8 ppg) is actually greater than the points allowed (34.0 ppg) by the squad. Obviously those numbers won't be able to hold up when the Big Ten schedule kicks into gear, but it is still nice to know that Wisconsin can shut down opponents as well as anyone in the nation. Against UMKC a few nights back, the Badgers permitted a mere 31 points at the Kohl Center, limiting the visitors to a mere 20.8 percent shooting from the floor. Jared Berggren led three players in double figures with 21 points, followed by Ben Brust and Mike Bruesewitz with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Opponents are shooting only 26.2 percent from the floor against Wisconsin.