If you saw the Power Poll from the other day, you already know I didn't think too highly of Northwestern in spite of their solid Pomeroy rating. Wednesday's beatdown at the hands of the Wisconsin Badgers may have doomed the Wildcats to lower end of the conference standings once again.
I find it amazing that Northwestern's football team can rise up every 8-10 years and put a nice product on the field, but the basketball team cannot seem to make any progress. Wisconsin's lead ballooned to 30 points in the second half, thanks to Jason Bohannon's sharpshooting. Bohannon actually quietly set or matched career highs in points, rebounds and assists. Wow. On the flip side, no Wildcat scored in double figures. [box score]
The Badgers have started out 3-0 in conference, but in my opinion, have bested three teams in the bottom half of the league. Associate head coach Greg Gard called the team's free-throw shooting the biggest disappointment of the night. A late rally by J-Bo and Marcus Landry left the team at 63.6% on the evening, so I suspect Gard had Trevon Hughes and and Jon Leuer (they shot a combined 3-of-9 on freebies) in mind when he said that. If that is the worst thing you can say about your team's performance, you are always coming away with a 'W' against Northwestern.
Wisconsin certainly had its way inside with Landry and Leuer, which was fun to watch. I mentioned before halftime that anything less than about 16 points from Marcus would be a disappointment. Unfortunately, he caught a few bad bounces on good looks, winding up with 12 points and five boards.
Leuer asserted himself early and often, stuffing the stat sheet with 15 pts (6-of-9), 8 rebs, 3 blks & 2 stls. His active hands and improved defense have led to an increase in playing time, much to the amusement of Badger fans.
Another positive was the starting backcourt combining for nine assists. A couple of Pop's dimes were particularly pretty. I am still amazed at how much criticism Hughes took after the Texas loss. It was totally uncalled for; Hughes is one of, if not the most valuable player on this Wisconsin team.
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- Iowa's Matt Gatens is the only Big 10 frosh to make BP's list of the Top 25 freshman in this "down year".
- I am hoping to get to a Madison Memorial game soon. I wish I could have seen the Spartans squeak passed Mike Bruesewitz's Henry Sibley squad last week, where future Badger recruits squared off against each other and fellow D1 talent.
- Harvard! Finally good for something besides hockey and spawning The National Lampoon. Can you say "let down" game? And Michigan fans, haven't we heard this Amaker story somewhere before?