Rushed Reactions: #12 Ole Miss 57, #5 Wisconsin 46

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 22nd, 2013

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Brian Goodman is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report from the Kansas City pod of the West Region.

Three Key Takeaways:

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Wisconsin vs Mississippi

  1. Henderson Runs Ice Cold Before Contributing In Win: Ole Miss’ enigmatic star had the ultimate half to forget, with a bagel on 11 shot attempts before intermission. He came alive in the second half, hitting buckets, grabbing a few loose balls and icing the game with late free throws. He finished with 19 points on 21 shots, but the bigger takeaway is that it was easy to see the Rebels gain confidence once Henderson got going. While Ole Miss held it together with Henderson missing, the Rebels played a little looser once he got going in the second half.
  2. Uncharacteristic Afternoon For Wisconsin. The Badgers put on a very unusual performance, committing several mental miscues, hitting just 25.4% of their shots and letting up offensive boards by the bushel in the first half. Ole Miss’s zone especially frustrated Wisconsin, and the miscues allowed the Rebels to stay in the game despite Henderson’s arctic first half shooting.
  3. Badger Seniors Go Out With A Whimper: Jared Berggren, Mike Bruesewitz and Ryan Evans had very good careers under Bo Ryan, but vanished Friday afternoon, shooting a combined 5-22 on Ole Miss’ defense. Bruesewitz also committed four costly turnovers and Berggren just never got going offensively. While experience is a vital part of March Madness,  the best player on the court for Wisconsin was freshman Sam Dekker.

Star Of The Game: Reginald Buckner: His polarizing teammate outscored him by ten points, but the burly Buckner was terrific inside for the Rebels, scoring nine points to go along with a game-high 12 rebounds. Wisconsin had no answer for him as he continually backed down Wisconsin’s interior defense and was perhaps the biggest reason why Ole Miss was able to stay close and ultimately pull ahead. Not to be forgotten is Buckner’s frontcourt complement, Murphy Holloway, who chipped in ten points and nine boards of his own.

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It’s A Love/Hate Relationship: Volume XIII

Posted by jbaumgartner on March 19th, 2013

Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC columnist. His Love/Hate column will publish each week throughout the season. In this piece he’ll review the five things he loved and hated about the previous seven days of college basketball.

Five Things I Loved This Week

I LOVED… Wisconsin senior Ryan Evans. One of the best things about conference tournament week is that you suddenly get a much larger dose of all the guys who you’ve seen for a just few highlights, or maybe a couple of prime time games. And while I was ready to stamp Wisconsin with the “lucky to make it to second weekend” label, I couldn’t help but find myself impressed with the Badgers’ discipline and the savvy, fundamentals-based game that Evans displayed during UW’s impressive run in Chicago. Plus, you can’t help but love the flat top.

Ryan Evans’ Team Impressed Over the Weekend

I LOVED… Jim Larranaga completing an incredible ACC turnaround. Winning both the regular season and conference tournament titles is a truly great accomplishment, and it seems like so often that we see teams have a great start to conference play and then flare out as we get into the tough March games that really make or break you. Though I still think the Hurricanes are vulnerable, with Shane Larkin leading the way, Miami is definitely capable of a big run, too.

I LOVED… Tournament Week. I’m embarrassed to guess how many hours I spent in front of the TV last week, but it was definitely justified. The Big Ten tourney alone was enough, but additional quality finals in the Big 12, ACC and Big East, among others, made this a vintage Couch Potato weekend.

I LOVED… how Greg Anthony has somehow gotten himself into every other college basketball TV commercial.

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Rushed Reactions: #22 Wisconsin 68, #3 Indiana 56

Posted by WCarey on March 16th, 2013

Walker Carey is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report from the Big Ten Tournament at the United Center following Saturday’s matchup between Indiana and Wisconsin. You can follow him at @walkerRcarey.

Three Key Takeaways:

Wisconsin Stopped the Hoosiers Again

Wisconsin Stopped the Hoosiers Again

  1. Indiana is still deserving of a #1 seed. Even with the setback to Wisconsin, the Hoosiers still have one of the best resumes of the country. Indiana was the outright regular season champion of the toughest conference in college basketball. The Hoosiers won road games at Michigan State, Ohio State, and Michigan. It has as much, or more, talent as any team in the country. A record of 27-6 is not usually the record of a #1 seed, but college basketball this season has been anything but the usual. Indiana should still be a #1 seed and it should still absolutely be viewed as a strong contender to get to the Final Four.
  2. Wisconsin is the definition of a team. The Badgers certainly do not have any guys who can be considered “stars,” but what they do have are eight players who contribute to every game. Point guard Traevon Jackson is a true point guard who is always looking to make his teammates better. Shooting guard Ben Brust is always a threat to catch fire from deep at any time. Forwards Jarred Berggren, Mike Bruesewitz , and Ryan Evans are all seniors who bring the Badgers extremely tough and disciplined play in the post. Freshmen Sam Dekker and George Marshall along with sophomore Frank Kaminsky come off the bench and routinely make an impact for the Badgers. While there are certainly teams in the Big Ten who have a lot more individual talent than the Badgers, there might not be a team who plays together as well as the Badgers. Wisconsin’s ability to play together as a unit makes it a tough team to beat and a team that should never be taken lightly.
  3. Wisconsin certainly has Indiana’s number. With Saturday afternoon’s victory, Wisconsin has now won 12 consecutive games over Indiana. While a majority of those wins came when Indiana was down, it is still quite the amazing statistic. Indiana is viewed by many as the best team in the country, but Wisconsin has defeated the Hoosiers twice this season in fairly commanding fashion. The Badgers’ physical style of play coupled with their deliberate attack on offense frustrates almost every team they play and it could certainly be one of the reasons for their utter domination over Indiana. This is definitely a streak that should be followed as next season comes around because it will be fascinating to see if Wisconsin will be able to top Indiana yet again.

Star of the Game. Ryan Evans, Wisconsin. The senior forward was all over the place for the Badgers. He finished with 16 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and four blocks. Evans also supplied Wisconsin with very capable defense against Indiana’s Christian Watford who is always capable of an offensive explosion. Jared Berggren (11 points and five rebounds) and Sam Dekker (11 points off the bench) were also considered, but Evans was clearly the best player on the court for the Badgers.

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Rushed Reactions: Wisconsin 68, Michigan 59

Posted by Chris Johnson on March 15th, 2013

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Chris Johnson is a Big Ten Correspondent and an RTC Columnist. He filed this report Friday from the United Center. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

For the first 20 minutes, the best prospective quarterfinal match-up of the Big Ten Tournament was a complete eyesore. Then the game opened up. Wisconsin’s efficient offense churned, Michigan never went away and the Badgers held on for a nine-point win.

Composed offense and disciplined defense from Wisconsin was too much for Michigan to handle (Getty).

Composed offense and disciplined defense from Wisconsin was too much for Michigan to handle (Getty).

  1. The First Half Was Bad. Really Bad. Call it good defense, bad shooting or an ugly mixture of the two. Whatever it was, Michigan and Wisconsin came out and laid a cringe-worthy offensive dud in the first half, 37 points of discordant offense, unsightly play actions and wasted possessions. Neither team broke the 0.60 points-per-possession barrier and the Badgers and Wolverines together made just seven three-point shots. This wasn’t totally unexpected; Wisconsin’s fourth-ranked efficiency defense has forced more than a few of the nation’s top offenses into utter dysfunction this season (see a mid-January road win at Indiana), but the miscues were not relegated to one end of the court. Michigan denied easy post feeds to Ryan Evans and Jared Bergrren and locked down the Badgers’ perimeter threats – Traevon Jackson and Ben Brust chief among them. The Wolverines went into the locker room with a three-point lead, and untold amounts of offensive frustration. By its own lights, Wisconsin couldn’t have felt much better. The second half presented the prospect of another soporific offensive slog.
  2. Wisconsin’s Shooting Really Picked up. Somewhere between that 5-of-29 first half and the opening possession of the second half, Wisconsin had a long-range epiphany. That’s the only way to explain how the Badgers knocked down six threes in a second half just minutes after one of the worst shooting halves of its season to date. Brust knocked down three bombs from distance, all of them coming at seemingly opportune moments – whenever Michigan clawed back, whenever Trey Burke or Mitch McGary would energize the pro-Wolverines crowd with a nifty layup or a strong post move, Brust closed the door. But Wisconsin’s second-half offensive uptick can’t be spun in such simple terms. The Badgers poked and prodded on the inside, with Bergrren, Evans and Mike Bruesewitz physically manhandling Michigan’s big men on the offensive end. Traevon Jackson directed a precise and efficient offensive attack, and Michigan’s defense, so strong for much of the first half, couldn’t hold firm for the second 20 minutes. Once Wisconsin found itself on the offensive end, and kept up its almost mechanically predictable stingy defense, Michigan couldn’t keep up. Read the rest of this entry »
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Morning Five: 02.26.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on February 26th, 2013

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  1. It has been a week since the NCAA released the external report it received regarding its lack of institutional oversight the misconduct of a few individuals, but Dennis Dodd is one the first national media member we have seen who took the time to pick it apart to point out the sheer ridiculousness of some of the stuff that the NCAA did. While this information is embarrassing for the NCAA and points to the fact that some more people than just Julie Roe Lach should have gotten fired, the NCAA always makes us cynical and we have a hard time believing that the NCAA revealed all of the bad stuff it did and exactly how high up the chair this type of behavior went. Unfortunately in the end the administrators at the NCAA will probably walk away unscathed.
  2. While many writers watched the Oscars on Sunday night, Dan Spears was busy putting together his mock bracket, but unlike nearly every bracket you will see his is tailored around storylines. We are not sure that this would necessarily boost ratings since it seems like a large portion of the country shuts down for the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament. Still we suspect that every writer would love for this to happen for the overload of storylines to choose from.
  3. We have mentioned the peculiar case of Ryan Evans‘ free throw shooting as the Wisconsin senior has gone from a fairly reliable (70%+) free throw shooter to an awful one (40%). It appears that Evans and the Wisconsin staff are experimenting with all kinds of potential solutions as he may even start taking jump shots for his free throw attempts. If Evans were do so he would not be first player to take such an approach as the article points out that NBA legend Hal Greer took a similar approach and in more recent times Nick Van Exel who opted to shoot his free throws from 17 feet instead of the customary 15 feet. Of course both Greer and Van Exel were outstanding free and we doubt that even a normal method of shooting would have made either of them 40% shooters.
  4. After becoming a media darling with their early domination of the SEC Florida has fallen under the radar following losses at Arkansas and Missouri. However, several analysts still consider the Gators to be on the short list of top contenders to cut down the nets in Atlanta. The likelihood of that happening may increase on Saturday when they are expected to get Will Yeguete (knee) and Michael Frazier II (concussion) back. The news of their return will be overshadowed by the imminent return of Ryan Kelly (as all non-Duke news does), but in terms of the national title picture the impact could be similar. Yeguete gives Patric Young some much needed support on the inside and Frazier is actually the Gators’ best three-point shooter connecting 48.9 percent of the time. The Gators finish the regular season with a relatively easy stretch (and yes, we are counting the SEC Tournament) so they should have plenty of time to get these two back into the regular rotation without too much difficulty.
  5. With Kansas’ win at Iowa State last night Bill Self won his 500th game as a head coach, which is an impressive total, but still leaves him outside of the top 20 winningest coaches in Division I history. That doesn’t stop Jeff Goodman from joining Andy Glockner in pointing out that Self may have the best chance of any current coach of breaking Mike Krzyzewski’s eventual wins record. It is worth pointing out that Self has mocked Glockner’s idea when it was mentioned to him some time later. As Goodman points out with (basic?) statistics, Self has won 33 games per year over the past six seasons and if he does that for “just” 15 more seasons he would be approaching 1,000 victories. While we appreciate Goodman breaking out the calculator it is worth pointing out that the run Self has been on the past six years is one of the more impressive runs in NCAA history (Krzyzewski has never had a six-year run that was as successful if we are just going by overall wins as his best six-year stretch averaged 31.667 wins per year). Honestly the only way we see Self or any other current coach approaching Krzyzewski’s record is if the NCAA adds more games to the season.
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Big Ten M5: 02.21.13 Edition

Posted by jnowak on February 21st, 2013

morning5_bigten

  1. By now it seems fair to say that the Big Ten Player of the Year candidacy is a two-horse race. Michigan’s Trey Burke has been the front-runner since the Wolverines broke out of the gates. Victor Oladipo has been more of a dark horse because he was lesser-known at the beginning of the season, and because most of the Indiana NPOY attention had been focused on Cody Zeller. But a couple big games on the national stage — he’s almost singlehandedly won each game against Michigan State — has perhaps propelled Oladipo perhaps into the top spot for the award. The Big Ten Network‘s Brent Yarina and Tom Dienhart debate the matter, with Yarina voting for Oladipo and Dienhart giving the nod to Burke. What do you say?
  2. There were plenty of opportunities for Michigan State to put away Indiana on Tuesday night in East Lansing, and a few of them came at the charity stripe. Keith Appling, who has been one of the most clutch players in the Big Ten this season but has played horribly against Indiana, missed a few over the course of the game, and Gary Harris missed several as well, most importantly the first of three with the chance to tie the game with a couple of ticks left. But Tom Izzo and the Spartans say the missed free throws aren’t what determined the final outcome of the game. Adreian Payne pointed to a Christian Watford and-one, and Denzel Valentine pointed to Victor Oladipo’s crucial late put-back late. Whatever the final determining factor, those missed free throws sure didn’t help.
  3. With its win against Michigan State in East Lansing, Indiana became the prohibitive favorite to win the Big Ten and, perhaps, the national title. Bob Kravitz writes that the Hoosiers are the best team in the best conference in the country, and it’s hard to argue with that after the body of work they’ve put together over the course of the year. They’ve been impressive both on the road and at home — despite at times proving to be vulnerable — and have the most depth and weapons of any other title contender. People who saw them on Tuesday could see that they have the most pieces that you need to win a title, which is why they are where we thought they’d be at the beginning of the year — at the top. But will they be there in April?
  4. Not to put down a senior who has contributed a great deal to the Wisconsin program over the years, but one of the most puzzling things about watching the Badgers is seeing Bo Ryan sticking with Ryan Evans in favor of standout freshman Sam Dekker during crucial stretches. Wisconsin is in a title chase, after all, and Evans just is not having the type of season you’d expect from someone with so much experience under his belt. Ryan has made it clear he intends to stick with his guy, though, and Evans has said he’s remaining positive while working through his struggles. But as the games become more meaningful, can the Badgers afford to go to him in crunch time?
  5. We know John Groce is new to the Big Ten, so didn’t anybody tell him that the conference has a reputation for playing slower basketball? Perhaps not. And, really, Groce is just another in the line of Big Ten coaches who wants his players to push the basketball up and down the floor. Indiana, Michigan and Michigan State are all teams known to be lethal in the full-court game, and that’s the style Groce is trying to bring to Illinois. Mark Tupper writes that this is getting more players to expand their game, which can only mean good things for the Illini in the long run.
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Sam Dekker Will Be a Star in the Big Ten But Not Until Next Season

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on January 31st, 2013

Deepak is a writer for the Big Ten microsite of Rush The Court. Follow him on Twitter for more about B1G hoops at @dee_b1g.

Most top recruits out of high school don’t have Wisconsin on their short list when it is time for them to commit to a college hoops program. Badgers head coach Bo Ryan rarely pursues top-25 players from the prep ranks unless they fit well with his offensive philosophy. Swinging the ball around, using at least 25 to 30 seconds of the shot clock, and playing in an offense which is one of the slowest in the country (61 possessions per game) is not very appealing to the top recruits who don’t want to be held back. But Badger freshman Sam Dekker has been an exception to this trend. Highly touted as a senior (#13 by Rivals), he chose to head to Madison to play for Ryan. Dekker’s performance so far this season has been impressive at times but he hasn’t been seen consistent playing time yet — the limited minutes can be attributed to Ryan’s offensive system and his reliance on the upperclassmen who can play “Badger basketball.”

Sam Dekker (right) may be Wisconsin's best scoring option but he will have wait till next year for extended playing time.

Sam Dekker (right) may be Wisconsin’s best scoring option but he will have wait till next year for extended playing time.

The 6’7″ wing has averaged about 22 minutes per game this season, while scoring an efficient 9.0 PPG along while pulling down 3.4 RPG. His minutes have been inconsistent because he is fourth on the depth chart of forwards this year behind Jared Berggren, Ryan Evans and Mike Bruesewitz. All three seniors have been a significant part of Ryan’s teams over the last two years and understand the principles of his offense very well. They are very disciplined with their shot selection due to their maturity and are also quite physical on the defensive end of the floor. Without Josh Gasser in the lineup this year, the Badgers don’t have as many offensive options so they rely more than ever on using the shot clock efficiently and playing great team defense. Dekker, like most freshmen, is prone to turning the ball over at times or missing defensive assignments, which means more to Ryan’s teams because of fewer possessions. As a result, Ryan has only used the freshman off the bench but always seems to revert to his seniors during crunch time unless Dekker has played a perfect game. For example, during the recent 70-66 loss to Iowa, Dekker scored 13 points but was pulled during the second half because he had turned the ball over five times. During conference play (except against Illinois) the Badgers haven’t run away with any of their games and most of their wins have been within 10 points which pushes Dekker back to the bench because Ryan needs Breusewitz to defend the best wing during the final minutes. Dekker may be Ryan’s best pure scoring option but the combination of three senior forwards who exemplify the physical nature of the Badger’s defensive philosophy seems to be a better plan of attack for him so far this season.

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Previewing Wisconsin-Ohio State: All Eyes on Deshaun Thomas

Posted by jnowak on January 29th, 2013

Here are a few coinciding items pertinent to Tuesday night’s Wisconsin-Ohio State game:

  1. Wisconsin is one of the best defensive teams in the Big Ten.
  2. Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas is one of the best, if not the best, scorer in the Big Ten.
  3. Beyond Thomas, Ohio State doesn’t have much consistent scoring to rely upon.
This man is the focal point for Ohio State every game. Wisconsin should have that in its scouting report Tuesday.

This man is the focal point for Ohio State every game. Wisconsin should have that in its scouting report Tuesday.

That, in a nutshell, is what to keep an eye on Tuesday when the two teams meet in Columbus. Wisconsin has been an enigma this season, struggling through most of its non-conference schedule before apparently getting its act together at the beginning of Big Ten play. But they’ve suffered some puzzling losses while also managing to win back-to-back games without eclipsing 50 points for the first time in 16 years. Ohio State, meanwhile, has won most of the games it’s been expected to, but faltered in most of the marquee match-ups. In a talent-laden conference like this one, that’s not going to get them very far this year. But on a smaller scale, let’s take a slightly closer look at Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas conundrum and how it impacts both these teams.

There are essentially two ways you can play Ohio State. You can let Thomas get somewhere around his scoring average — he scores a Big Ten-best 20.0 PPG — while limiting the rest of the Buckeyes. Lenzelle Smith Jr., LaQuinton Ross and Sam Thompson are all possible second scoring options (with all due respect to Aaron Craft, who is a terrific point guard, but that is not his role), though none have performed with any consistency. Only one of them averages in double-figures (Smith, just barely, with 10.2 PPG) and, consequently, the Buckeyes are one of just two conference teams without two players in the Big Ten’s top 30 in scoring (Purdue is the other). Yes, Penn State, winless in Big Ten play, has two players in the league’s top seven. And Nebraska, nearly as bad as the Nittany Lions, has three in the top 20. But I digress.

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Morning Five: 01.16.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on January 16th, 2013

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  1. Yesterday morning we said that we did not expect Luke Martinez to get a significant punishment since charges were only brought against him once additional information about the case came out. Well we were wrong as the additional information that came out suggests that Martinez kicked his possibly unconscious victim’s face “like it was a football”. As if things were not bad enough for Wyoming at least two other players were present including one (Derek Cooke Jr.) who reportedly punched the victim before Martinez kicked him. We would not expect to see Martinez donning a Wyoming uniform any time soon if at all.
  2. Massachusetts faced an uphill battle in a strong Atlantic 10 this year, but appeared to be making a push for the NCAA Tournament, but those hopes took a hit when it was announced that Jesse Morgan will miss the rest of the season after tearing the ACL in his right knee last week. After the injury was initially diagnosed as a sprain, the Minutemen had hoped that he would return, but once Morgan was seen by a doctor on Tuesday it became apparent that it was in fact an ACL tear. At this point, a NCAA Tournament appearance seems like a stretch as Morgan is not only the  the team’s second leading scorer, but also their best perimeter defender. With a fairly deep Atlantic 10, the Minutemen are probably looking at a NIT appearance at best unless they can get someone to step up to provide additional scoring and perimeter defense.
  3. We have seen a lot of weird stats when it comes to free throws, but never anything quite like what is going on with Wisconsin’s Ryan Evans, who has gone from a 73% shooter last year to a 38% shooter this year. Ken Pomeroy offers a variety of suggestions, but is not able to pinpoint a single identifiable reason. Looking through Evans’ game log from this season, it is apparent that a few atrocious games are having a large effect on his overall percentage, which is interesting because Evans has never had any poor performances from the free throw line during his three previous seasons at Wisconsin. It will be interesting to follow this trend and whether Evans is able to revert to his old form or if this becomes an issue for the Badgers who may be hesitant to use Evans in late game situations for fear that opponents will foul him intentionally to get him to the free throw line.
  4. You won’t see Tom Izzo on Twitter any time soon as he appears to dislike it and other social media because of the negative feedback that some of his players get although he lets them have accounts on it. [Ed. Note: He appears to have an account that he has not used in nearly two years.] It is interesting to see that some of the players have followed his lead and stopped checking out Twitter or other social media sites. On the other hand, there are several that appear to use it as motivation, which is what we typically see from players who love to retweet hate messages that are sent their way. While each coach has to make a decision that is best for the program, Izzo’s approach appears to be among the more sensible ones that we have seen–telling his players that they can use Twitter and other social media if they want, but to be ready to either ignore or deal with anything they hear on there.
  5. Andy Glockner is back with his latest bracket projection that includes the most tantalizing First Four game ever–Kentucky-North Carolina (a rematch of what was perhaps the best game of last season)–although at this point we would question if either team is even worthy of making the First Four. At least that was our initial thought until we started going through his Bracket Watch column where it became apparent how weak the resumes of some of the other Bubble teams are at this point. After looking at it one thing that we had been considering recently becomes apparent: some of the non-BCS conferences have a very good shot at getting more teams into the NCAA Tournament than they ever have before thanks to some of the BCS conferences having down years.
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Wisconsin Outlasts Nebraska in Typically Ugly Manner

Posted by CNguon on January 7th, 2013

Patrick Marshall is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after Sunday afternoon’s Big Ten clash between Nebraska and Wisconsin in Lincoln.

Earlier this week, Nebraska head coach Tim Miles told reporters that Sunday’s game against Wisconsin in Lincoln was a winnable game. And for 35 minutes, it looked like it was. Wisconsin was seeking its first true road victory of the season, having gone 0-2 so far in those situations. Coming into the game, there were questions as to how many points would be scored between these two teams — for much of the contest, it appeared that the winner would be the first team to score 50 points. A 19-all halftime tie exhibited both teams combining to go 17-of-52 from the field and 3-of-16 from three. Most of the first half was spent with both teams dribbling around, going one-on-one for much of the possession, and missing numerous open shots. Whether it was strong defense or just an off shooting day, all the bricklaying created audible moans and groans from those in attendance. Many of us on press row looked around at each other wondering where the coffee was served.

A rugged contest throughout, Sam Dekker and the Badgers earned their first conference road victory of the season (AP)

A rugged contest throughout, Sam Dekker and the Badgers earned their first conference road victory of the season (AP)

The second half seemed to start with a little more flourish with both teams scoring within the first minute, but things cooled down again afterward. Nebraska surged to a small lead — any lead felt like a 20-point lead in this one — but the teams battled back and forth with the game tied seven times and the lead changing hands nine times the rest of the way. Jared Berggren started to heat up by scoring 10 of his 13 points in the second half. Ryan Evans also came up big down the stretch by finishing with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Wisconsin didn’t do themselves any favors in going 4-of-17 from three-point range and 3-of-13 from the free throw line, but the Badgers were lucky that the game didn’t ultimately come down to free throws at the end. It was a 40-minute grind and Wisconsin thrives in those types of games. Nebraska made a valiant comeback as Brandon Ubel hit a three-pointer with a minute remaining to cut the Badgers’ lead to three, but the Huskers would not score again and Wisconsin escaped Lincoln with a 47-41 road win. The Nebraska front line was thin without Andre Almeida in the rotation and Wisconsin took full advantage with a 28-14 advantage in the paint.

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Examining Some Warning Signs for Wisconsin’s Defense

Posted by KTrahan on November 28th, 2012

Defense has always been a hallmark of Wisconsin’s formula for success. By keeping scores low and turnovers to a minimum, the Badgers are able to win games year after year. But this season, Bo Ryan’s team has struggled to defend other top teams. The problem isn’t turnovers or a lack of offense; rather, as BTN.com’s Big Ten Geeks writes, the Badgers have struggled with defensive rebounding and fouling too much. Wisconsin has done well against opponents it physically out-matches — the Badgers defeated Southeastern Louisiana, Cornell and Presbyterian by an average of 39 points each — but the team has struggled against opponents that can earn easy second-chance points. Wisconsin was out-rebounded by 18 against Florida and two against Creighton, while Florida got to the free throw line six more times than the Badgers, and Creighton got there 10 more times. Florida and Creighton are both very good teams, so losses in those games aren’t terrible for the Badgers’ postseason resume, but their defensive rebounding and fouling issues could lead to more trouble down the road.

It’s Hard to Believe That Bo Ryan’s Team is Struggling Defensively

No matter how Wisconsin defends, though, the Badgers will continue to struggle if they give teams extra possessions and frequently puts them on the line. Losing to Top 25 teams this early in the season may not matter all that much, but if this becomes a pattern, it could spell trouble for the Badgers down the road. We all know how tough  the Big Ten is this year, so Wisconsin won’t have as many chances to beat up on weaker teams once it gets into league play in January. The Badgers must use the rest of the non-conference slate to prepare for the coming uptick in competition, starting with consecutive games against Virginia and California, then later, a game against Marquette. That should give us a better understanding of where this Wisconsin team is headed.

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The Big East’s Top 25 (or so) Non-Conference Games of 2012-13

Posted by Dan Lyons on November 9th, 2012

While Big East basketball is always a spectacle, this conference season has even more added juice with the impending departures of Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and (eventually) Notre Dame.  However, before we get to conference games, the Big East is involved in some really intriguing non-conference games this season. Big East teams will be playing all over the United States, Germany, and on a few aircraft carriers. Let’s take a look at the best that the Big East has to offer in the non-conference slate this season.

Syracuse and San Diego State tip off the season on the deck of the USS Midway this Sunday (AP)

25. Pittsburgh v. Oakland, November 17, 7 PM

The Panthers have a rather light non-conference slate this season, but don’t expect them to look past the Golden Grizzlies. Oakland has a history of playing tough schedules, and won’t be intimidated by the Zoo. Oakland is coming off of a bit of a down year in 2011-12 when they finished 20-16 (11-7), but made the NCAA Tournament in both 2009-10, when they were knocked out in the first round by Pittsburgh, and 2010-11.

24. DePaul @ Auburn, November 30, 9 PM

Look for DePaul to try to do the conference proud when they head down to take on the Auburn Tigers as part of the SEC-Big East Challenge. This DePaul squad should be better than it has been in years past, returning dynamic forward Cleveland Melvin and dangerous guard Brandon Young.  Auburn is coming off of a poor 15-16 season, and could be ripe for a big non-conference road win for the Blue Demons.

23. Rutgers v. Iona, Madison Square Garden, December 8, 9:30 PM

One of these New York metropolitan-area teams is coming off of a great season that ended in a heartbreaking NCAA tournament loss to BYU. The other is continually striving to build its program, and aspires to have such success.  It almost seems backwards that Iona is the more accomplished team at the moment, but isn’t that what makes college basketball so great? A big performance by the Scarlet Knights at the Garden could go a long way in setting the tone for a run at a tournament berth in the Big East.

22. St. John’s v. Detroit, November 13, 2 PM

The Johnnies tip off their season against a very dangerous Detroit squad led by superstar Ray McCallum. St. John’s has a number of impressive young players themselves, and head coach Steve Lavin will return to the sideline after battling cancer last season. While many look forward to what should be a fun match-up between McCallum and D’Angelo Harrison, the St. John’s star was recently benched in the team’s final exhibition for disciplinary reasons. If Lavin continues to have issues with his top guard, it could prove very problematic for the Red Storm next week.

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