I have a lot of thoughts about Wisconsin exiting the NCAA Tournament in the second round again, but any arguments that could be made about why the Badgers lost can be summarized pretty easily. And anyone who watched both Cornell and Wisconsin play in the first round probably are not surprised at all.
For the second straight game, Wisconsin's perimeter defense was exposed, as was UW's help defense rotations. The Badger guards could not stay in front of the Big Red guards and the interior help D -- particularly by Keaton Nankivil -- was not quick enough to get in good position to cut off the penetration.
One result was early foul trouble for Nankivil, the player whose presence on the court is most indicative of the team's success. Even watching it happen, I was shocked to find out that Nankivil only managed five minutes of playing time. [box score]
Extended bench time for Nankivil effectively killed Wisconsin's chances on the boards. Cornell out-rebounded the Badgers, 27-20, and grabbed nearly 38% of its misses on offense, a figure well above Wisconsin's nation-leading average (26%).
The other by-product of the lax defense was an express lane to the hoop for Cornell. Nothing better illustrates this than a contrast between the two teams' shot charts.* Notice all the activity in the lane for Cornell versus the lack of attempts, let alone points, in the paint for Wisconsin:
Cornell - 61% (33-of-54)
Wisconsin - 49% (24-of-49)
It is no surprise that Wisconsin paid dearly all 10 times it turned the ball over, with the Big Red hitting jump shots from all angles. Trevon Hughes suffered through a really bad performance (6 TOs) in his final game.
*Shot charts courtesy of CBS Sports, though the accuracy of their charts has occasionally been less than 100%.