Breathe easier Badger fans, the nightmare is over. 11 days of losing seemed like an eternity for the Grateful Red but a 72-58 win over the Purdue Boilermakers brought us all back to our happy place.
Next up on the Badger’s agenda are the Northwestern Wildcats. The same Wildcats that on January 2nd, laid an egg that could impress an ostrich.
The Badgers stomped Northwestern 76-49 to open up Big Ten play. It was Freshman big-man Nigel Hayes’ breakout game, scoring a career-high 19 points off the bench. It was a great road win to get the momentum rolling into 2014.
Now the Wildcats must get on the bus and travel up to bitter cold Madison where the Badgers will be waiting with open arms.
Many believe that this will be more of a tune up game for UW, a practice of sorts to prepare themselves for the February 1st match-up against the Ohio State Buckeyes, who have just dug themselves out of their own 4 game losing streak.
But let’s not get too carried away into the future. First things first are the Northwestern Wildcats. Although short work was made of them earlier in the month they still pose a threat. No game should be taken lightly in this conference. Just ask Indiana, who was handed a loss by Northwestern just four days after their season reviving victory against the 16-0 Badgers.
This Wildcat team will catch you sleeping. They’re led by Senior Drew Crawford who averages 15.6 points per game. The Wildcats have won two of their last three. Nothing to brag about, but for a team that’s 10-11, that’s a sign of improvement. It’s always tough playing teams with nothing to lose. The Badgers put on a clinic in Evanston, leaving a bad taste in the mouths of the Wildcats. This group would love to come into Madison and avenge their loss.
With all this said the Badgers should feel confident going into the game. Defense will be the key. We all know that Wisconsin has been terrible of late but expect things to change. On the January 2nd match-up the Badgers held Northwestern to an abysmal 34.5 shooting percentage.
If the Badger bench can maintain a relentless attack to the basket the Wildcats will not be able to keep up. Possibly the most impressive statistic of the last matchup was bench scoring. Wisconsin managed to score 32 points where as Northwestern’s could only put up four. Yes four.
This will be head coach Chris Collins first game inside the Kohl Center. He will be hoping that the soft rims are in their favor otherwise the Wildcats will be as cold as the outdoor temperature.