Both the Wisconsin Badgers and your author have been busy handling some business over the last 10 days. Since my last post, Wisconsin has tackled Ohio State in Madison and Indiana at Assembly Hall to continue it's march back up the Big Ten standings.
The Badgers have been able to avoid the letdowns that plagued the middle portion of the season. As a result, Wisconsin is beating those opponents they are expected to beat. The upperclassmen have continued to lead the surge. Marcus Landry did work inside versus Ohio State in a "must win" and paced the team with 18 points while adding seven rebounds. [box score]
Curiously, Thad Matta kept Buckeye big men Dallas Lauderdale and B.J. Mullens on the bench for much longer than necessary after early foul trouble. The duo combined to play only 34 minutes. It was great to see a Badger opponent changing the lineup to respond to UW going small. The Buckeyes were flustered.
Jason Bohannon has played great defense in the last two games, as he has drawn more favorable assignments (pure shooters) in Jon Diebler and Matt Roth. J-Bo's experience is showing. In addition, Trevon Hughes and Joe Krabbenhoft were both superb against Indiana in what turned out to be an easy victory. [box score]
Krabby posted another career-high with 18 points against the Hoosiers and continues to prove that his more aggressive (and competent) offensive repetoire is no fluke. That has probably been the highlight of the season so far for me. I have been critical of Krabbenhoft's offesnive approach over the years. However, in addition to being consistent in a season of ups and downs, Krabby has added reliable 3-point range and a willingness to look for his shot this year. He is now probably one of top five most complete players Wisconsin has ever had.
Next comes a date with the Michigan State Spartans on their home court this afternoon. There's no need to get up in arms over Spartan senior Goran Suton calling Wisconsin "dirty" (it sounds like it was a leading question and a quote with little substance). What I took from Suton's comments was validation of the Wisconsin-Michigan State rivalry:
"I like Michigan more than Wisconsin. That's pretty bad."Tom Izzo got even more candid with the Detroit Free Press.
This is a very important game for both teams. Michigan State is eager to erase the memory of last season's meltdown in the Big Ten tournament. However, it is an even bigger game for the Badgers. A win would be the defining moment of the season, practically removing memory of the season's six-game losing skid by replacing it with a sixth straight win. It is a tough task, but then, it always has been. And as a Wisconsin fan, you know that every Bo Ryan team has as good a chance as anyone to win in East Lansing, where Northwestern and Penn State have already handed the Spartans home losses.
Traditionally, Michigan State's Achilles' heel has been turnovers. This could bode well for Wisconsin again because the Badger fingers have been a little stickier lately, averaging over six steals/game in the last eight contests while still limiting their own turnovers.
Now it is time to do it again Top Ten competition ... godspeed, Badgers.