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Mackey Arena continues to be house of horrors for Badgers basketball

Wisconsin continued its struggles at Mackey Arena, getting blown out by Purdue to extend its losing streak three-straight.

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Mackey Arena has been a house of horrors for the Wisconsin Badgers basketball program. Mix in a down year for the Badgers and one of the best Purdue teams in decades and you get a 78-50 no-doubter by the No. 3 team in the nation.

Vince and Carsen Edwards nearly did the Badgers in alone, as the two reached over the 20-point mark respectively and combined for 41 points in the win.

Wisconsin was done from the opening tip on though, as Purdue ripped off a 12-0 start to the game before a pair of Nate Reuvers free throws broke Wisconsin’s early scoreless streak. However, it didn’t get much better as Purdue lead by as many as 21 points in the first half.

Purdue was up 32-11 with 4:32 left in the first half, but the Badgers did battle back (sort of) to go in to the half on an 11-7 run to make it a 39-22 Boilermakers lead at the half.

Ethan Happ struggled in the first half, but tried to put the team on his back. He finished the game with a team-high 15 points and had six rebounds and seven assists. But, he also finished with seven turnovers and it set a bad tone for the Badgers.

Wisconsin turned the ball over 20 times and never got themselves in the game because they couldn’t sustain anything thanks to said turnovers.

The loss drops the Badgers to a woeful 18-71 against Purdue in West Lafayette and drops them under .500 on the season (9-10, 2-4 B1G). UW will look to get back to winning ways after three-straight losses on the road and will come back to the Kohl Center to take on Illinois on Jan. 19 at 6pm on FS1.

 

Badgers hold Haas, Matthias down, still can’t win

If you would’ve told me that Isaac Haas and Dakota Mathias would be held to a combined 4 points, I would’ve told you the Badgers were going to at least be in the conversation to win this game. The two came in averaging 28.1 points combined, but each managed just two points in this one.

Rather than that being a good sign for the Badgers, UW forgot about defending the rest of the Boilermakers and the results were just awful.

Wisconsin couldn’t find a way to figure out curls or screen and rolls by anyone else, especially backup big man Matt Haarms. The Dutch product came off the bench and dominated UW’s defense for 10 points in 18 minutes played.

Ethan Happ was no help and trailing players were simply not long enough to deal with Haarms or either of the cutting Edwards’ for the Boilermakers. As much as people want to harp on the offensive side of the ball, Wisconsin’s inability to do the fundamental things on defense is really what’s killing this team.

That was certainly on full display in this one for Wisconsin.

Purdue was more aggressive on both ends

Wisconsin’s youngsters would do well to put the tape of this game on over and over again the rest of this week. No, not because it’s a painful reminder of how pathetic they looked, but as a reminder of what being aggressive does for a team.

Purdue played physical, strong and confident basketball from the start and it showed on both ends.

Excuses are running thin for Gard and Co.

Simply put, this loss was as embarrassing as the Big Ten opener against Ohio State and one could argue that Greg Gard hasn’t figured any way to motivate

One positive is that Gard seems not to be giving up on this team. According to the ESPN broadcast he could be heard clear as day . Ethan Happ came out motivated and tried his level best to get this team back in the game, but had little help in that effort.

Some of it could be down to lack of depth in the backcourt, with two of four main players down. Some of it can be chalked up to Brad Davison not being able to use one arm for most things. Some of it can be chalked up to a junior class that is producing nothing.

But, the sad part is the last part — Gard was responsible for bringing all of Brevin Pritzl, and Charlie Thomas. None of them are consistent scorers and none of them can be counted on to help Happ on a nightly basis.

Missing on this class is hurting the team as we’ve previously talked about, and the lack of development is on Gard and the players too. It’s one thing to see one or two of a five-man class not work out, but all five?

Iverson and Pritzl have shown promise at times this season, but they are the best this class has had to offer and they are role players at best on a team that needs them to be stars.

If there was a bright spot in this game it was the play of freshman Nathan Reuvers. He looked confident while shooting from deep and never gave up on the game despite the feeling that it was over from the get-go. Yet,

Not only did he have 8 of Wisconsin’s 22 points in the first half alone, he found himself unafraid to get physical with bigger players like Isaac Haas on the other end of the court. But, it appeared that Gard was never comfortable with Happ and Reuvers on the court at the same time.

Sure, Happ wasn’t on target in the first half, but he was playing well with Reuvers at times and allowed the freshman some open looks from beyond the arc. Instead of figuring out how to pair those two, Reuvers was hardly seen down the stretch when he could’ve been used the most.

Gard needs to figure out how to pair Happ and Reuvers to his advantage and he needs to find a way to get the guys to hustle the way Purdue did. It was like watching a team of athletes against a team stuck in mud all night long.

Wisconsin’s turnovers were only compounded by an inability to get back on basketball, something that few teams before it since Dick Bennett came to town struggled with.

All of those things add up to a coach who is running out of time and desperate for answers. Does he have them in the offseason? At this point that is what the rest of this season is about — showing how this team can grow and learn from this bad year and move forward.

If he can, this will be a blip on the radar. If he can’t, it’s huge trouble for a proud program and Gard is in some serious trouble himself.

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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Badgers Basketball

Badgers dropped by Ducks for 1st time in NCAA tourney

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The Wisconsin Badgers return to the NCAA tournament was not a happy one, as they got dumped 72-54 by the No. 12 seed Oregon Ducks on Friday afternoon.

The loss ends the Badgers season earlier than they have seen since an eerily familiar loss to Ole Miss in the first round of the 2013 tournament.

After 20 minutes it was all-square at 25-25, but then the second half happened and Oregon pulled away with 47 points to their name and some quality work on the defensive end of the court.

Oregon freshman guard Payton Pritchard led much of that second half outburst and he ended up with 19 points in the win. The Ducks also got double digit scoring from Louis King (17) and Paul White (14).

Wisconsin was led senior duo Ethan Happ and Khalil Iverson, who each had 12 points. No other Badgers player reached double figures.

The game remained close for the first 30 minutes, but that’s where the two teams diverged. Oregon began to be more consistent on offense and suffocated the Badgers on the other end of the court.

UW was doomed largely by an inability to hit from the perimeter, going just 6-of-30 from beyond the arc in the game and shooting just 33.3 percent from the field.

Ironically, Wisconsin cut the Ducks lead to just five points at 50-45 with 7:27 left to play thanks to a D’Mitrick Trice triple.

But, the Badgers went on a nearly three-minute scoring drought late in the game and allowed Oregon to control the game. By the time Happ stopped the bleeding, the Ducks led 59-49 with 3:56 to play.

Wisconsin would make two buckets the rest of the way — both in the final minute when the game was well out of reach.

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Badgers Basketball

5 things to know about Badgers vs. Oregon in NCAA tournament

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When the Wisconsin Badgers saw their name back up in the NCAA tournament bracket after a one-year absence there was much joy.

However, for the fan base there was also much groaning thanks to yet another matchup with the Oregon Ducks in the NCAA tournament. It’s also a team that most fans will know as a dangerous one, even if they are a No. 12 seed.

Oregon is arguably the hottest team in tournament, riding an eight-game win streak. They’ve outscored opponents 72.0 to 54.2 points per game and holding opponents to 34.6 percent shooting from the field and 23.1 percent from beyond the arc.

All of that tells us just how serious the Badgers have to take this matchup with the Pac-12 champions.

So, ahead of Friday’s matchup with the Ducks at 3:30pm CT, let’s look at the 5 things we need to know about this matchup.

5: Wisconsin has allowed just 5 teams to score 70-plus points in a game this season

There’s a reason why the Badgers are ranked 3rd in the country in Adjusted Defense by KenPom.com and thats’ because they don’t let teams score points in droves.

To that point, the Badgers have allowed opponents to score 70 or more points against them in just 5 of 33 games played so far this season.

Furthermore, just two teams this season have scored 80 points or more, with losses in both of those games (84-80 OT to Purdue & 83-76 to Western Kentucky). So, keeping the Ducks offense from getting going is going to be vital.

4: Wisconsin has reached the Sweet 16 in 4 of last 5 seasons

Birth, death, taxes…and the Wisconsin Badgers making the Sweet 16? It’s been almost automatic as of late for UW, who have made it to the second weekend of the tournament in 4 of the last 5 seasons.

The Badgers have also done it in 6 of the last 8 years.

Impressive, right? But did you know that no other team in the country has matched or topped that number? It’s true…it’s damn true.

Additionally, Oregon’s resurgence has come largely thanks to a switch to a “big” lineup with 4 players 6-9 or taller in the starting lineup.

3: Both teams have 3 starters averaging double figures

Both Wisconsin and Oregon will feature three starters each that are averaging double figures this season. Leading all six of those players is Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ (17.5). He’s joined by Brad Davison and D’Mitrick Trice — both of whom are averaging 10.7 points per game.

Oregon is led by freshman guard Louis King (13.1) and is joined by fellow guard Payton Pritchard (12.7) and forward Paul White (10.6).

What this game could come down to is how the rest of the group shows up. UW has been able to count on another big man in Nate Reuvers plenty throughout the season and Khalil Iverson has been a huge presence as of late. Will that continue after nearly a week off?

2: Pritchard scored 20 or more points twice in the Pac-12 tournament

If you need a reason for why the Oregon Ducks are even in the tournament, look no further than the hot hand of Payton Pritchard. In three games in the Pac-12 tournament, Pritchard put up 20 points twice and in the third game he hit for 18 points.

That’s an average of 19.3 points per game and a scary matchup for the Badgers efficient defense to have to deal with.

On the flip side of that hot hand, it does seem as if 20 points is his ceiling on the scoring front. Pritchard has managed to score more than 20 points just once this season, and that happened in the season opener against Portland State in which he put up 22 points in a large win.

1: Ethan Happ is the No. 1 player in the KenPom.com player ratings

In an age of stretch forwards and 7-footers with jump shots galore, Happ is a throwback player who rarely shoots from outside of three feet. But, that hasn’t stopped him from being one of the most dominant players in the country. So much so that Ken Pomeroy has him ranked as the No. 1 player in the country.

Not only is Happ averaging 17.5 points, but he is also averaging 10.1 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game. Should he finish the season averaging 16 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists per game, he would be just the second player in 20 years to accomplish that.

Oh, and Happ is 1 of 6 players in NCAA history to record 2,000 points, 1,000 boards and 400 assists, joining Oscar Robertson, Larry Bird, Danny Ferry, Stacey Augmon and John Konchar.

Enjoy his final games in a Badgers uniform.

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Badgers Basketball

Badgers get Oregon again in NCAA tournament

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After bowing out in the Big Ten tournament semi-final on Saturday afternoon, everyone was waiting to find out where the Wisconsin Badgers would be heading in the NCAA tournament.

It didn’t take long to get that answer, as the Badgers were given a No. 5 seed in the South region, which was the second region to be revealed in the selection show.

Their opponent? Oregon. AGAIN.

The destination? Go West young man.

Wisconsin will meet the Ducks in San Jose, Calif. on Friday and the winner will get the winner of Kansas State vs. UC-Irvine in the next round on Sunday.

This will be the third matchup between the two teams in the last five years of the NCAA tournament.

Wisconsin has won both previous matchups between these two teams, topping the Ducks 85-77 in a second round matchup. UW would do it all over again the next year, besting the Ducks 72-65 in another second round matchup.

Wisconsin is in the top half of the South region bracket and that could set up another very familiar matchup, as the Virginia Cavaliers are the No. 1 seed in the region.

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5 Things to know about Badgers vs. Nebraska in Big Ten tournament

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The season of redemption has reached the postseason and unlike last year, the Wisconsin Badgers of this season are firmly in the NCAA tournament. There’s no need to win the Big Ten title to get to the dance.

Of course, that doesn’t mean the Badgers won’t want to showcase themselves by winning the whole tournament either.

Wisconsin will step on to the United Center court for the first time in the Big Ten tournament on Friday afternoon. Across from them will be a red-hot Nebraska Cornhuskers team, who have won twice — including an upset of No. 5 seed Maryland — to get here.

So, what do we need to know about this matchup and the Badgers in the Big Ten tourney in general? Let’s get it going.

5: Nebraska and the 55-point mark are vital to this game

Wisconsin is one of the best defensive teams in the country this year, ranking 4th in defensive efficiency according to KenPom.com. That doesn’t bode well for the Nebraska Cornhuskers though, because they’ve only managed to top 55 points in 7 of the 13 previous matchups since joining the Big Ten.

All four of the Badgers losses to Nebraska since they joined the league have come with Nebraska scoring more than 55 points (58 being their lowest in a win over UW). The Huskers are averaging a meager 57.9 points per game against UW overall since joining the B1G.

The Badgers have also held Nebraska to 55 points or less in four of the nine wins in the series since becoming league foes.

4: The Badgers are the No. 4 seed in the Big Ten tournament

Let’s just say this program is coming back home when it comes to postseason play, shall we? After all, the Badgers have been amongst the top 4 seeds in the conference tournament in 16 of the last 18 years.

By earning those seeds, one would think the Badgers have a history of success in the tournament or something? Is that true? Let’s find out together.

3: Wisconsin has won 3 Big Ten tournament titles.

That may not seem like a lot, but for those of us who are in our 30’s and can still remember the days without a Big Ten postseason tournament that number is a lot. UW won tournament titles in 2004, 2008 and 2015. So, math tells us they are likely due for another banner to be risen in to the rafters at the Kohl Center.

Wisconsin has not been a slouch in the tournament overall either, having played seven more times in the title game and owning a .571 record in the history of the tourney.

2: Happ’s continued run at history

We all know that Ethan Happ is historically good. But, did you know that Happ is on pace to be just the 2nd player in the last 20 years in all of D1 basketball to average 16 ppg, 10 rpg & 4 apg.

Right now, Happ is averaging 17.8 points, 10.4 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game — so he’s well on his way to achieving that mark.

As for the matchup with Nebraska, Happ is averaging 14.2 ppg, 9.2 rpg and 2.6 apg in five games against them. If he’s going to stay on track for his record-breaking season and career, he’ll likely have to duplicate if not exceed most of those numbers.

1: The Badgers own the Big Ten’s best March winning percentage in last 6 seasons

Winning titles only happens by winning games and the Badgers have a very long history of doing that in March. So much so that its 29-9 (7.63) mark is the best amongst all Big Ten teams during games played in the month of March.

When you say Wisconsin in March, you said it all.

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