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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Stephen Bardo Is A Moron

Immediately after Wisconsin dismantled Michigan State in front of a nationwide cable audience, the ESPN talking heads asked "analyst" Stephen Bardo to name which team he would pick to go farther in the post-season. Bardo went on to spew some vague, nonsensical reasons why he likes Michigan State better. Can someone get him a television set? The Badgers improved to 24-4 and 14-2 in the Big Ten by holding the Spartans (22-6, 10-5) to 42 points! Bardo must be dreaming.

I was hoping to be able to provide a running diary of this game, but the opportunity did not materialize. My lack of both the Big Ten Network and a DVR has made that type of post difficult this season. But even if I had put one together, I may have been at a loss for words -- how does one react to an "comfortable" victory over Michigan State?

The obvious answer would be to react jubilantly. After all, this may have been the biggest game of the conference season given the timing and possible title implications. This was the type of game where every single basket is magnified in importance. Taking care of the ball is paramount. Bo Ryan and Trevon Hughes saw to that, as the team set a school record with only one turnover.

One could also respond with a bit of surprise. Take a closer look and it was a game of bucking expected trends. Michigan State's problem all year has been turnovers, but the Spartans cut down on those versus the Badgers. Joe Krabbenhoft hit two long jumpers to keep MSU's defense guessing as it sagged to limited UW's inside game. Those jumpers were vital, as Krabby's garbage hoops did not fall and his attempt at leading a 2-on-1 fast break with Michael Flowers was pathetically timid. Instead of Jason Bohannon raining threes, it was Brian Butch catching fire from 3-point land. Those four treys, a career-high, were crucial to proving Izzo wrong: Wisconsin can beat you from the outside. [box score]

A quick Butch 3-point shooting breakdown ...
First 18 games: 3/32 (9.4%)
Last 10 games: 15/25 (60.0%)
Season total: 18/57 (31.6%)

Besides the Polar Bear's hot streak, one constant in this latest Badger winning streak has been Flowers. My affinity for him has been well-stated. His shooting accuracy is no longer a fad, it is reality. Through trial and error, Flowers now possesses the perfect level of aggressiveness on offense and defense. We have not seen him pick up a fourth foul in a game since January 10. Yet the results are even better, whether it be hounding Neitzel into a 1-for-10 shooting night or picking up his offensive production. Since the second loss to Purdue (5 games), Flowers has made 10-of-18 3-pointers, doled out 17 assists with 6 TOs and 6 steals.

I love the rivalry with Michigan State. Those with hatred for Marquette might disagree, but there is no bigger matchup for me each year. Nothing else touches it. It feels good to be on the winning side again, even if the Spartans seem a little off their game this year.

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Devin Harris got busy tonight against the Bucks in his New Jersey home debut. Check out the video highlights for his vicious drive and flush over Andrew Bogut. He moves so fast, he can't even stay upright all the time. Harris has some very nice running mates in Jersey like Jefferson and Carter, so hopefully he stays healthy and continues to spread his more-chiseled-yet-still-scrawny wings.

1 comment:

  1. Who's the moron now? I think Michigan State went as far as Wisconsin in the tourney last year... And oh by the way he gets paid for his opinion, what about you?


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