Following their loss to GW, the Hoos now face a much easier opponent. The Bradley Braves are in the first year under new head coach Brian Wardle. Wardle replaced Geno Ford, who was 46-86 in 4 years at Bradley. Bradley has not been to the NCAA tourney since 2006, though they did go to the Sweet 16 that year. Wardle takes over a team that has perhaps the toughest early season schedule in the nation, as they just got thumped by Arizona and now Virginia in the same week.
This game is being held in Charleston, as part of the Charleston Classic. The Hoos will play 3 games over the next 4 days. The next game will be Friday against either Seton Hall or Long Beach State. The other side of the bracket has George Mason, Ole Miss, Towson and Oklahoma State.
Along with Ford, Bradley lost much of their roster from last year. In fact their entire starting 5 is gone from last year. A total of 8 players from last year's team have left for another program. To make matters worse, last year's leading scorer Warren Jones was dismissed from the team back in August.
The top returning player for the Braves is senior Ka'Darryl Bell, who averaged 6 points per game in 26 minutes of play last year as the backup PG. He is a decent outside shooter, so he may get some extra run against the Hoos as Bradley is going to need to make some outside shots to stay in this game.
This is one of the youngest teams in the nation, with 10 freshmen on the roster. Their starting lineup includes 4 freshmen and a sophomore. The top player so far has been Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye, a 6'3" athletic wing. He'll likely be guarded by Malcolm Brogdon. Ronnie Suggs is the top outside shooter on the team, so the Hoos will want to stay home on him as much as possible. The lone sophomore in the starting lineup, Donte Thomas, leads the team in usage rate. But he is, right now, one of the least efficient players in the nation.
Bradley has really only one big man, Callum Barker. He's a 6'9", 245 Australian. Maybe he and Jack Salt can hang out after the game. He's big and strong, but not particularly mobile. He can shoot the ball also. The other "bigs" for the Braves are 6'9" 210 pound Luuk Van Bree and Davante Cooper. They are both tall, but they aren't capable of banging inside with the Hoos.
The Hoos played very poorly their last time out, and lost to a very good GW team. Obviously, Tony and the fans do not want to see another poor performance. But Bradley simply does not pose the same threat that GW did, and the Hoos will win this game handily.