Wisconsin basketball (16-3,3-3) have now suffered 3 straight Big Ten losses in the past 10 days. During this losing streak, we have not seen the same fundamentally sound Badgers on the court that we saw during their remarkable 16-0 start. Sooner or later we knew Wisconsin would be handed their first loss, but losing 3 consecutive games including a rare loss in the Kohl Center no one had anticipated.
So what exactly is the reasoning for this Wisconsin basketball teams downward spiraling? The Badger’s defense, or lack there of. Wisconsin’s continuous struggles on defense are very uncharacteristic of a Bo Ryan basketball team. Then again, very uncharacteristic seems to be the theme of this years team. There is no question that this Badger team can score and put points up on the board in a hurry, but what does that matter if they can’t stop opposing teams on the other side of the court.
The Badgers first loss of the season came at the hands of the Indiana Hoosiers. Wisconsin had the chance to become the first team to defeat Indiana 13 consecutive times. In the Big Ten, every team knows that it’s extremely difficult to win on the road no matter which team you are facing. The Hoosiers took advantage of a weak interior Wisconsin defense scoring 52 points in the paint that helped them to their 75-72 victory.
Michigan then upset Wisconsin 77-70 at the Kohl Center for the first time since 1999. Losing a second consecutive game, it was the defense again that couldn’t get the job done. The Badger’s defense allowed the Wolverines to shoot 60 percent in the first half and finish the game shooting 55 percent. In Wisconsin’s third loss, the Minnesota Gophers shot an astounding 59 percent and outscored the Badgers 48-24 in the paint. The Gophers went on to win 81-68 and leaving this Wisconsin basketball team with a lot of questions that needed answering.
This is what we have learned during Wisconsin’s troubling losing streak. The defense has allowed an average of 77 points in their 3 losses and are letting their opposing teams shoot an average of 55 percent a game. The Badgers lack of fundamentals on defense is the root of all of their problems. Guarding the simple high pick and roll has some how become rocket science for Wisconsin. By allowing guards to penetrate the lane with ease off of the high pick gives them time to either take the open inside shot or find a open teammate. The reason teams are shooting so successfully against the Badger’s is because opposing teams are getting great looks near the rim and open shots behind the arc. The defensive pressure and intensity just isn’t their for this team right now.
The defensive struggles you can guarantee will get fixed by Bo Ryan who is making a strong argument to be inconsideration for National Coach of the Year. Expect Wisconsin to take out their frustrations on the Purdue Boilermakers (13-6,3-3) this Saturday at 4:00 PM, when they travel to Mackey Arena.