Two Weeks ago, Badger fans may have looked past today’s match-up against the Purdue Boilermakers. Who’s to blame them? At 16-0 Bo Ryan’s boys had broke numerous school records including it’s longest win streak. They were the third ranked team in the nation and one of the four remaining unbeaten. Northwestern, Iowa, and Illinois served little to no threat and next up was Indiana who the Badgers hadn’t lost to in it’s previous 12 meetings. The Wisconsin Badgers were the buzz of college basketball. ESPN analyst and NCAA champion Jay Williams predicted this team would go all the way. Badger fans were in single degree paradise. What could possibly go wrong?
We know the rest. Indiana fans storm the court after they upset the Badgers on national television. Michigan shoots lights out as they come up with their first victory in Madison since 1999. Minnesota looses it’s top scorer and still manages to shoot 59% from the floor. Talk about getting off your high horse.
My apologies Badger fans for the tear jerking trip down memory lane. I too would of loved to see this team stretch their win streak into February but it’s time to face reality. One that takes place at this afternoon in West Lafayette with a Badger team in shambles.
The Badgers will attempt to get back on their feet after their three game stumble which to many already feels like a bar time crawl all the way down State Street.
Although Wisconsin Basketball typically struggles at Purdue the Badgers feel like favorites. Bo Ryan hasn’t lost four straight since 2009 and you can believe tonight he will have his team ready to go. There were plenty of positives to take away from Wednesday’s game against Minnesota. I’ve narrowed down three keys that the Badgers must reiterate in order to succeed.
1. Get to the foul line
The Badgers shot 23 free throws on Wednesday, 12 more than the Gophers. Slowing down the game by getting to the line has always been in Bo Ryan’s game plan. You saw it against Michigan when the Badgers scratched and clawed out of a 14 point deficit. As a team they’re above average. They shoot 73% from the line making ranking them 52 in the nation. This team has sped up the pace this year but don’t be surprised if they go back their roots and slow down.
2. Unleash Sam Dekker
Dekker was the Badgers high scorer on Wednesday notching 20 points. There was some fire to Sam as he attempted to carry the team out of their never ending deficit. His success comes from his wide array of scoring. He reached the foul line eight times, made 6 fields goals, and sunk a three pointer. Dekker reminded us of his early season performances showing why he is a rising star.
-(AP photo/Jim Mone)
3.Get Frank Kaminsky involved
Early foul trouble set Kaminsky back Wednesday but during the second half the big man made the most of his minutes. In his 15 minutes of play Frank scored 9 points and grabbed 4 rebounds. Fairly well considering he only played two and a half minutes in the first half. Kaminsky will need to stretch the floor out for the Badgers. We know he has range. He’s second in the team in three point field goals made. What you may not know is that he has 22 assists. Not a spectacular stat by any means but it shows that he has the ability to dish out the ball. Purdue’s interior shouldn’t pose much of a threat to Kaminsky but he needs to avoid early fouls in order to make a major impact.
The Boilermakers and Badgers both sit in fifth place in the Big Ten with 3-3 records. They also average 75 points per game. On paper we should expect a high scoring affair. Sounds funny for a Wisconsin-Purdue matchup. If the Badgers want to come out of West Lafayette victorious they must stick to these keys and shape up their defense.