After a tough loss to Maryland, Wisconsin Basketball is seeing its tournament stock drop.
According to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, bracketologist extraordinaire, the Wisconsin Basketball team is still comfortably in the field of 68. For now. There’s a big, red arrow next to the Badgers though, suggesting that stock is dropping.
The Badgers are on a slide. Not only are they losing, but they’re playing very concerningly long stretches of poor basketball. Just looking at Wisconsin’s schedule you wouldn’t notice it, and maybe the committee will soon forget this stretch of four losses in five games too, but as of right now the Badgers are playing poor basketball.
What else is strange, is they’re also playing really, really good basketball too. Just not until it’s too late. The Badgers overcame an 18-point deficit in the second half last night against Maryland to eventually take the lead for a brief moment in the final minutes. That great defense and team play (a lot of which came with Ethan Happ on the bench in foul trouble) was some of the best ball the Badgers had played all year. If that can be replicated for a full 40 minutes, this team can beat anybody.
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The problem isn’t that this team can’t play good basketball, it’s that it can’t play good basketball at the right time. Which, I suppose, also means they aren’t playing good basketball. Anyway.
The Badgers, currently, are still well within the NCAA Tournament field as a 6 seed. Lunardi’s last four in as of January 15th are Texas, Florida, Kansas State, and Temple. Those First Four teams are all currently projected to be 11 seeds, so theoretically the Badgers have a ways to go from their current 6 seed.
Wisconsin, although in the tournament, could still continue to slide. The Badgers were a 3 seed less than a month ago on Lunardi’s December 27th iteration of his bracket projection. That was two days before a stretch that would see the Badgers lose four of five games. The next five games the Badgers play will hopefully result in better than a 1-4 record, but they aren’t easy. They host Michigan Saturday, then play at Illinois, vs Northwestern, at Nebraska, and vs Maryland again.
If the Badgers don’t have their puppies in order after the next five games, the following three could be disastrous. The Badgers play at Minnesota, at Michigan, and then host Michigan State. Three games that Badger fans would obviously love to have, but could very well be losses.
Those next eight games take us to February 12th, which would leave Wisconsin just under a month to close out the season on a high note and repair whatever damage may be done to its resume.
The good news is Wisconsin is currently still ahead of other Big Ten teams. Indiana is a projected 7 seed, Ohio State and Iowa are both 8 seeds, Minnesota is a 10 seed, and Purdue is still just a 6 seed. While the Badgers have looked awful as of late, it’s important to keep in mind there is still a mix of other Big Ten teams surrounding the Badgers that they can separate from down the stretch. The work they did earlier in the season is now showing it’s value.
Now, if only they could piece together a solid 40 minutes.