Wisconsin is fresh off the heels of a massive victory both in score (71-49) and opponent (OSU) and common wisdom would say this game could be a trap.
However, the team in front of them is Northwestern, which means overlooking them can't and won't happen. Why? Well, the Wildcats offense is the Princeton offense and that means prepping for something new – thus having to focus hard on the task at hand.
Northwestern is about as average as you can get this season. They are 13-13 on the year and 4-9 in the Big Ten and it appears that without a miracle run to end the Big Ten season the Wildcats will stay out of the NCAA tournament yet again. Seriously, these guys are becoming the Chicago Cubs of baseball – you know the "there's always next year" mentality. At some point it's got to be put up, or shut up for Bill Carmody at NU, no?
They also just happen to be on a three game losing season – again pointing to IT'S A TRAP!
So, what has been going wrong in those three straight losses as of late? Well, this is something that could bode well for the Badgers, as the Wildcats simply haven't been able to score AT ALL. They're averaging just 52.3 points per game as a team and are giving up 67.3 points per game on the defensive end. What's been hurting this team, this year, is a lack of real production on the offensive end, ranking 9th in scoring in the conference and only holding a scoring margin of +0.2 points per game. Any wonder as to why this team is average in total should be erased with that stat.
Now, that's not to say this team isn't dangerous as they've got some good parts available. Ya, I'm looking directly at the guards in Reggie Hearn (14.0ppg, 9th in B1G) and Dave Sobolewski (10.5ppg, 4.0apg – 5th in B1G) that must be dealt with if you want to stop the Princeton offense.
This team is would've been one to really deal with but unfortunately for Wildcats fans the injury bug has hit them hard – VERY HARD. Star guard Drew Crawford went down early with a knee injury and just 11 days ago do all swingman Jarod Swopshire also went down to a knee injury and his playing days in the NCAA are now over. So, this team is adjusting to new roles as well.
Traevon Jackson vs.Dave Sobolewski – It's a classic battle between two guards who can really be an influence on their repsective teams and it is one worth watching. Especially since both will be tasked with carry the load of the ball handling duties and have become bigger parts of the scoring offense as well.
Prediction: Wisconsin 67, Northwestern 53 – The Badgers have had a bad tendency to play down to competition this season, but I think the difference in this one is the confidence level of guys like Ben Brust, Sam Dekker, and Traevon Jackson as of late. As long as that trio and Jared Berggren are taking good shots this team will be fine, especially against a team that can't rebound anywhere near what Wisconsin can. This could be a trap game, but I just don't see Bo allowing his kids to think back or beyond this one at all and the sum of what Wisconsin does on defense and can do on offense wins this one for them.