Big Ten Season Wrap-Up: WisconsinPosted by jnowak on April 9th, 2012
Well, it doesn’t get much more Wisconsin than that. In pretty typical Bo Ryan fashion, the Badgers were underestimated at the beginning of the season, handled their business in the nonconference, emerged as a player in the Big Ten race, and gave people some trouble in the NCAA Tournament before making any real, substantial noise. It’s become Wisconsin’s M.O. over the years and 2011-12 was really no different. Depending on who you ask, it’s a success or a failure. Let’s take a look back:
- In a nutshell: Without a really dreadful stretch at the beginning of Big Ten play that left some wondering if Wisconsin would even make the NCAA Tournament — really? — the Badgers would have been right in the thick of the race for a Big Ten championship. Even with that three-game losing streak (and two of losses coming at home), the Badgers still managed to finish just a game back of the three-way tie for first place. That’s pretty darn good, all things considered. Jordan Taylor put this club on his shoulders and carried them within one point of a possible Elite Eight berth and an upset of top-seeded Syracuse in the NCAA Tournament.
- Overachievement: Is it unfair to narrow this down to a single game? Senior Rob Wilson, who had only two career starts under his belt by the time the Badgers met up with Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals, made seven 3-pointers and dropped a career-high 30 points to lead Wisconsin past the Hoosiers in Indianapolis. Not even his mother could have seen that one coming.
- Underachievement: I’m also not sure if it’s fair to single out Jordan Taylor for his performance this season given the team he had this year compared to last, but many felt Taylor didn’t perform at as high a level this year as he did last. The senior guard still led the team in points and assists, but his minutes, field goal percentage, three-point percentage, free throw percentage, rebounds, assists, and points were all down from last season. Some things can be chalked up to his supporting cast, but other stats — like free throw percentage, which dropped from 83 percent to 78 percent — are puzzling.
- Defining moment: That three-game losing streak — against Iowa on December 31 (that’s the mind-boggling one), against Michigan State on January 3 and at Michigan on January 8 — really set the Badgers’ Big Ten title hopes back. There are bound to be upsets along the way, but the Badgers so rarely lose at home, and hardly ever to lesser competition, that many wondered what was wrong in Madison and if it could be corrected. They got things back on track, but that was too deep a hole to completely climb out of.
- Final grade: This year’s roster doesn’t hold a candle to the team Bo Ryan had to work with last season, so it’s unfair to compare the two. In the end, Jordan Taylor did an admirable job of carrying this team and incorporating some younger pieces and a season sweep at the hands of Iowa is really the only thing for this group to be ashamed of. All in all, they get a B+.