As we approach February, the Wisconsin Badgers are trending the wrong direction. They have lost six of their last seven games. Most brackets will have UW Basketball as either a Last-Four-In team or out of the bracket entirely. With 10 regular season games left, they are running out of chances to build their tournament resume. The season isn’t over yet, however. Here are three ways the Badgers can get back into it.
UW Basketball Needs Better Bench Production
To be honest, Wisconsin gets little production from their bench. The only time was when Connor Essegian was first of the bench. He is now a starter, and Jordan Davis has that role now. Davis and Carter Gilmore can hold their own, but they won’t light up the stat sheet every night. Players such as Kamari McGee, Isaac Lindsey, Markus Ilver, and Chris Hodges are providing very little for a team that is extremely limited.
To be fair, the bench isn’t asked to provide a whole lot unless there is foul trouble. They get limited minutes outside of Gilmore and Davis. Even when the opportunities are limited, you still have to provide something. UW Basketball just isn’t getting it from their bench.
The Wahl-Hepburn-Crowl Trio Needs To Step Up
Coming into the season, we knew Steven Crowl, Chucky Hepburn, and Tyler Wahl had to put this team on their backs every night. They were the leaders of the team with the most experience. It’s a tough ask as Johnny Davis and Brad Davison were those players a season ago. For a young team with limitations, UW Basketball goes as far as those three do.
During this skid, they have not provided enough. Tyler Wahl was hurt and missed a few games, so that is an exception. Saturday against Illinois, however, is a good example. Tyler Wahl picks up two early fouls and had to sit the rest of the half. Steven Crowl and Chucky Hepburn were both struggling from the field. That is a big reason UW Basketball only managed 16 points in the first half.
I really like Wahl, Crowl, and Hepburn. I think they are all above-average players at their positions. We saw the production early in the season but not when it has mattered most. I do believe if they can be more productive moving forward, everyone else will follow.
UW Basketball Needs To Finish Games
Wisconsin had a great opportunity to beat Northwestern and Illinois. Wisconsin missed nine of their last 10 shots against the Wildcats and gave up a 22-4 run to the Illini after they tied the game at 37 in the second half. They also trailed at Maryland by only four as well. They were punched in the mouth right away and folded.
UW Basketball has put 30 minutes together where they have hung around with their opponent. Unfortunately, it’s been a stretch of either bad defense or bad offense in the second half that’s resulting in a huge deficit they can’t come back from.
Overall, this is a young team with not a lot of experience. These teams tend to struggle to finish games and don’t have the talent to erase those deficits. If Wisconsin can limit these stretches, they will be in a lot of games the rest of the way and can steal some wins.
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