It is that time of year again where the UW Badger basketball team takes a long layoff for finals so we thought some of you fans might be getting restless. This is a hard Badger basketball squad to figure out, we have only one game left before we get to the Big Ten schedule and frankly we still don't really have a great idea of how they are going to do this year. Every other year under Bo Ryan we could take a look at their body of work in the non-conference games and go you know what they should be at the top of the Big Ten competing for the title and finishing no worse than third or fourth, but this year we are stumped.
To further illustrate our point so are the expert analysts that participate in the ESPN power rankings, we have never seen such a wide gap in opinions on the Badgers or probably any other team. At present 8 out of the 15 voters don't even place them in their top 25 but such quality experts as Fran Fraschilla has them all the way up at 16, the senior basketball writer Pat Forde has them at 20, and Joe Lunardi who does their brackets slots them at 22.
The reason we are stumped is two fold, one the Big Ten is so dang good this year to say you are going to be able to compete for the title this year is a strong statement. Just go ahead and count the quality Big Ten teams, Ohio State, Michigan State, Purdue, Illinois, Minnesota that could be ranked in the top 15 teams in the country. Notice we didn't list Wisconsin because unfortunately we have done nothing to prove we are a top 15 team and sadly we likely aren't this year. While we think the Badgers somehow, someway might make another title run we just don't have much to back that up with.
What we know is the Badgers struggle to score because they have very limited scoring options on this team. Yes we know that in theory Rob Wilson, Jarmusz, Berggren, Evans, Mike B. can score, but until they actually prove it this year the scoring options on this team are limited beyond belief. At the present time for scoring the Badgers have two very good ones in Leuer and Taylor, and that is not enough to compete for a title you need at least three scoring options who you can count on in Big Ten play to easily pick up 12 points in a game. Nankivil should be this third scoring option and is on a lot of nights but he has to many nights where he goes MIA to count. We love the freshman Gasser, you know we do but he isn't going to be a consistent scoring threat in the Big Ten this year so if we are going to contend or stay respectable Badger upperclassmen not named Taylor or Leuer need to step it up.
Besides scoring this Badger team does some good things to win a lot of games like not turning the ball over and shooting well from the charity stripe, then again they don't close out on three point shooters well and let teams back in games late so again who knows. We will however know very quickly in 2011 as the Badgers early Big Ten schedule is not kind with Minnesota, Illinois, and Michigan State to play in the first 5 games.
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