Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ice cold in Madison

Wisconsin walked into Raleigh, N.C., ranked seventh in the nation on November 30th.

It walked out as a loser by three in its ACC/Big Ten Challenge match-up against North Carolina, and its been downhill for the Badgers ever since.

Coming off a 59-41 loss to Michigan Sunday, the Badgers have lost their last three games, a streak sparked by a stunning home loss to Iowa.

It's widely known around the Big Ten and the country that in the past, for you to win in the Kohl Center, you had to play great, if not perfect. So for Wisconsin to already have three losses on its schedule at home, there seems to be something wrong with this team.

Undoubtedly the loss of Jon Leuer and Keaton Nankivil have contributed to Wisconsin's struggles so far this season. With 18.3 points per game lost with Leuer and a significant outside threat from three in Nankivil gone, they are a team that lacks scoring, even with a great guard in Jordan Taylor.

Similar to Purdue, Wisconsin's success revolves heavily around its ability to knock down the three. 

And that ability for much of this season has been shaky to say the least.

They have shooters. With Mike Bruesewitz, Ben Brust and Jordan Taylor all on its roster, the talent to shoot consistently from deep is there, but its yet to show itself.  Wisconsin shot 3-of-28 from three - that's a ridiculous 10.7% - against Iowa on December 30th.

It's not just from three, either. They are cold from everywhere. On Sunday against Michigan, they shot just 31% from the field. 

So a reasonable question is: Are they just a decent shooting game away from getting back on track?

You have to remember that this is still the team that fought tooth and nail with North Carolina in Raleigh. They also beat a very good UNLV team. It was at home but still impressive.

Oh, and they still have one of the best point guard's in the conference and probably the country in Jordan Taylor. He has the ability to take games over.

Wisconsin walks into Mackey arena at 1-3 in the conference and 12-5 for the season. Purdue faced a desperate team in Minnesota on Sunday and passed the test. Wisconsin comes in just as desperate and probably more so. 

Purdue needs to win the games it should; this is one of those games. With Wisconsin struggling, it should take full advantage of jumping on them early. With the tough road schedule ahead, Purdue has to focus on locking down its home court. If it can do that and steal some games on the road, it should be more than fine come selection Sunday.

It will be comforting to know that Keaton Nankivil will not be in the building this time. He always seemed to shoot unconsciously against Purdue. He almost stole a game single-handily against Purdue in Mackey two seasons ago.   

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