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Game Grades/Observations from Wisconsin’s Loss to Northwestern

Recap

Weeks of poor performances finally caught up with the Badgers as they finally got stuck in a hole they couldn’t dig out of. They lost 66-59 to a Northwestern Wildcats team playing without their leading scorer, Scottie Lindsey.

Northwestern was led by point guard Bryant McIntosh, who had 25 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, and looked like the best player on the court all game long. Nigel Hayes led the Badgers with 13 points, and Ethan Happ tacked on 10, although seven of his points came in the first six minutes of the game.

That game marked Wisconsin’s first loss in the Kohl Center since January 9th of last year. It also gave Wisconsin their first bad loss of the season. Wisconsin is now 0-2 against the rest of the top four teams in the Big Ten.

Observations

 -It is about time Wisconsin lost one of these games. They played horribly against Michigan, Rutgers, Indiana, and Nebraska, and somehow escaped with close wins in all four games. Their streak had to end at some point, and tonight it did. Wisconsin deserved to lose, and hopefully it serves as a wakeup call.

-This has to be the most frustrating Wisconsin Basketball team I have ever watched. They have a ton of talent, and start one of the most experienced lineups in the country. Yet they still play like a team full of freshmen and sophomores. The individual player improvements from last season to this season were disappointing. It’s pretty much the same exact team that ended last season with a few exceptions.

-The recipe to beat Wisconsin is pretty clear. Double-team Ethan Happ and make them beat you with jump shots. Against Nebraska and Northwestern, Wisconsin was not able to do that.

-Wisconsin needs to get a four seed or better to ensure that they will play their first and second round NCAA Tournament games in Milwaukee. The loss today certainly didn’t help their chances. They probably can’t afford many more losses if they want that home court advantage.

-Bronson Koenig clearly isn’t healthy. He isn’t getting the same lift on his jump shots and he isn’t nearly as explosive as usual. If I were Greg Gard, I would give him a week to rest. Winning a Big Ten Championship is important, but I would rather have him completely healthy for the NCAA Tournament.

-In the last five minutes of the game, Nigel Hayes posted up, demanded the ball, and attacked the basket. He missed a few bunnies, but that is the Hayes we need to see for the full 40 minutes.

-Not turning the ball over and playing great transition defense have been staples of the Wisconsin program since Bo Ryan took over. That is what allowed Wisconsin to compete and stick with better teams even when they didn’t quite have the talent. This year, the Badgers have struggled in both categories.

 Grades

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