Wisconsin basketball improved to 13-3 overall and 5-0 in the Big Ten after a 72-63 win over Northwestern this afternoon. Max Klesmit led the way for the Badgers with 26 points. As a team, Wisconsin basketball shot 50% from the field and 50% from three. A 8-0 run to end the game sealed the victory. Here are three takeaways from this afternoon’s win.
Max Klesmit to the Rescue Again
I believe Wisconsin basketball does not beat Ohio State and Northwestern if it wasn’t for Max Klesmit. The junior was at it again today going 9-13 from the field and 5-7 from three. Whenever the Badgers needed a big shot, Klesmit was there. When it seemed like the Wildcats were poised to tie or even take the lead, Klesmit ended it with a made basket.
As I mentioned on Thursday, Klesmit is not a play that needs to take double digit shots every game. Some games, he will take five or fewer attempts and focus more on the defensive side. Over the last three halves, he knows he has the hot hand and is leading this team. Klesmit is becoming one of the better two way players in the the Big Ten and there’s a lot of them.
Wisconsin Basketball Missed a Chance to Put This Game Away Early
Fouls were a problem all afternoon for the Wildcats. Multiple players had two fouls in the first half. For an already thin rotation, it didn’t help head coach Chris Collins.
The Badgers had a 32-22 lead late in the first half and had a great chance to put this game away. However, Wisconsin was sloppy with the ball in the first half, committing 10 turnovers. I give credit to Northwestern, but a lot of those were self-inflicted. Despite an 8 point win, I thought Wisconsin basketball was not sharp today or Wednesday outside of Klesmit.
The good news? The Badgers beat what I believe will be an NCAA Tournament team by eight points not playing their best. This team is learning to win these games that they were not able to last year. You can see the experience is paying off.
The Schedule Looks Favorable Moving Forward
I’m not a big believer in looking ahead, especially with how tough and balanced the Big Ten is. However, the next four games for the Badgers are at Penn State, home vs Indiana, at Minnesota, and home vs Michigan State. The Spartans are 1-4 in the conference, Penn State just blew a double digit lead to Northwestern Wednesday, and I am not sold on Indiana and Minnesota.
There’s a realistic possibility the Badgers enter February with a 9-0 conference record. That would be incredible in this conference. It’s clear they are one of the best teams in the Big Ten. They are also showing they can be one of the better teams in the country.
The Badgers will head to State College to take on Penn State Tuesday night. Tip time will be 8 PM on BTN.
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