Just over a week ago the Badgers seemed to be turning the corner. Coming off a 77-46 blowout over Nebraska, Wisconsin had won 6 of their last 7 and was playing gritty, efficient and determined basketball. It looked like they were hitting their stride at just the right time.
Then, Purdue came in to the Kohl Center red hot and spurned the Badgers on an emotional Senior Day loss. Just a bump in the road, a minor setback, right?
The Badgers (20-10, 11-6) showed signs of their abysmal offensive play from earlier this year tonight as they got absolutely demolished at the hands of the Spartans of MSU (23-7, 12-5).. Thanks to awful three point shooting and an out of synch offense, Wisconsin scored a season low in points in their 58-43 loss.
With the loss, Wisconsin's chances at the Big Ten regular season title are squandered. Now they're playing for a bye in the first round in the Big Ten tournament.
If there's one thing you pin this loss on, it's Wisconsin's abomination of a shooting night. Going just 29.4% (15-51) from the field and 17.4% (4-23) from deep (with two of those coming in garbage time) is a very effective way to lose a basketball game on the road.
It gets worse. UW committed 16 turnovers (yes, you read that right), giving MSU 16 steals. That's a lot of fast break opportunities for a team to give up. The Badgers were out scored 32-12 in the paint. All these factors led to just 0.65 points per possession for the Badgers, an absolutely awful rate.
Surprisingly, Wisconsin played some good defense tonight, with MSU only shooting 36.9% on the game, including 20% from three. If it weren't for Michigan State's 16 fast break points, it could have been a closer game.
The question you have to ask yourself is "Why?". Why didn't they come out with more intensity and better play? I'll tell you why.
I've been saying this from the start: the Badgers cannot be a good team when they rely on three pointers. In each of their loses this year, Wisconsin has come out firing from beyond the arc, going cold, and getting in to an early hole- something you just CANNOT do against good teams! Once they get in those holes, they use the three pointer to try to get back in it. This simply cannot work, especially if your not shooting extremely well from the arc.
When the Badgers were on a roll, it was because they were looking inside, getting good looks, and attacking the glass. They were playing Bo Ryan basketball, and were beating top teams because of it.
The clocks ticking very fast for the Badgers, and they'll have to figure it out sooner rather then later if they want to have any relevant tournament runs. This is a good team, and they can go very far- that's why these back-to-back loses are extremely frustrating.
Wisconsin is at Penn State on Sunday to wrap up their Big Ten regular season schedule.