It was the same story for the Wisconsin offense tonight. Slow starts, long scoring droughts, and poor execution late in games. It happened again tonight. Wisconsin fell to Northwestern 54-52 at home. It a gut-punching loss as this was a game Wisconsin should have won. With the NCAA Tournament now in jeopardy, here are three takeaways from this game.
Wisconsin’s Defense Was Great
On the defensive side, Wisconsin has nothing to hang their heads about. They made Northwestern work for a ton of shots. Boo Buie and Chase Audige went off for 36 of the Wildcats 66 points on the first meeting, Tonight, they scored only 24 points and to shoot 23 times to get it. Max Klesmit was really good on Chase Audige and it was clear Wisconsin missed him in the first meeting.
#Badgers have missed five layups and are 1-of-4 from the free throw line.
— Evan Flood (@Evan_Flood) February 6, 2023
It doesn’t matter how good your defense is. When you can’t shoot the ball, you will lose a lot of games. Wisconsin only shot 38% from the field and 5-11 from the free throw line. A slightly below average offensive effort wins this game. However, the Badgers put up another poor offensive effort for the second straight home game.
Late Game Execution Was Bad Again
Chucky Hepburn was given another chance to be clutch at the end of game. However, he fell short again. What was most disappointing was that he didn’t seem to look at another teammate. Not sure if Gard just said do something but it looked un-organized again. There’s no reason why Connor Essegian doesn’t touch the ball at the end. He was by far Wisconsin’s best player tonight.
However, credit Northwestern’s defense as it is one of the best in the Big Ten. Assuming they take Essegian out of the play, who else do you feel good about taking a late game shot? Tyler Wahl and Steven Crowl did not have good games either.
Wisconsin’s NCAA Tournament Hopes Are On Life Support
Unless Wisconsin goes on a big run to end the season, they will have to make a lot of noise in the Big Ten Tournament next month. Right now, they probably have to at least get to the semi-finals.
Wisconsin teams in the past did not beat themselves, You can’t say the same about this team. They miss so many shots at the rim, they go on long offensive scoring droughts, and they are really bad at the free throw line.
All 68 teams that make the NCAA tournament are really good at at least one thing. Wisconsin? They’re a fairly good defensive team, but they struggle to put the ball in the basket. If you can’t do that, you don’t deserve to make the dance. A berth to March Madness seems foggy right now.
The Badgers travel to State College to take on Penn State. Tip time is 7:30 on BTN Wednesday night.
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