If you didn't see Wisconsin's game against Minnesota yesterday afternoon, you missed out. At least you missed out on a totally dominant first ten minutes, one from which Minnesota never recovered. Wisco came out on fire, with Hughes ripping a bunch of steals for lay-ups, Bohannon and Butch draining threes, and Landry floating in the lane for baskets. Plus, Minnesota's offense was completely stifled. This led to Wisconsin getting a 19 point lead at Minnesota in the first half! Remarkable.
As you could expect, the dynamic offensive display died off in the second half, and the back portion of the game turned into a turnover fest, with both teams being colossally sloppy with the ball, and playing ugly offense. I think the Badgers had something like 12 turnovers in the second period. Ugh. Thankfully, their stifling defense didn't go anywhere, and thus Minnesota never got closer than 14.
The end result was that Wisconsin scored almost twice as much in the first half as they did in the second, but the margin at halftime was the same as the ultimate margin of victory-- 16 points. Wisco averaged a pretty average 1.02 PPP, which reflects how ugly the second half got, while holding the Gophers to an absurd .75 PPP. That's simply outstanding defense.
Notes and observations--
- Al Holen, number 0 on Minnesota, is a real player. He's the kid I mentioned in the previous post who has an absurd rate of steals. He was really impressive-- a total thorn in the side of Wisconsin's backcourt whenever he was on the floor. He's long, quick and aggressive. He should be an all conference defensive team next season, when he'll get some more minutes with McKenzie graduating. Now if he could only stop turning the ball over on offense.
- Second straight game where Butch did not look impressive on the offensive block. (The picture to the left is Brian getting denied by a much shorter but more springy help defender.) He hit a three and made a nice runner, but you'd like to see him effectively working the post. That's a little worrisome.
- Wisconsin held Minnesota frosh, Blake Hoffarber, to zero three point attempts. This is the kid who's leading the league in shooting. That he didn't even get off an attempt shows you how totally discombobulated Minnesota's offense was. That's on top of Coleman, Tollackson and McKenzie all having mouse-like offensive games.
- The hot start leading to the big lead was a product of hot outside shooting. Hughes, Bohannon and Butch all hit threes to run up the score in that stretch. It's that same feeling you get with Wisconsin-- since they play such solid defense, if they can just hit a few more shots, then man . . .
- The hot start led to an embarrassingly quiet Barn. Except for two or three stretches, that place was as quiet as the Kohl Center on a Wednesday night game against Florida A&M. That's a big advantage that Minnesota loses, and what a boost of confidence to Wisconsin-- hearing the quiet, and knowing it's because you're utterly dismantling the home team.
Next up, Iowa on Wednesday night in Iowa City, Iowa (Iowa). Iowa is one game below five hundred, and has a good shot at getting an NIT berth. Their defense is pretty good, led by excellent defensive rebounding, but their offense has been a bit stagnant. They do attempt a truckload of threes and pass the ball well. The good D was exemplified in their holding Sparty to just 36 (!) points a few weeks ago. Plus, they just beat a good Ohio State team, holding the Bucknoses to only 48 puntas. Both of those victories came at home. Don't you sort of wish that Wisconsin had played Iowa at Iowa a few weeks ago instead of in Madison? Since the Badgers beat them back in January, they've gone 4-4 in the league, including winning two out of their last three, the only loss coming by one point at Purdue. So it looks like Iowa's getting it together a little. Which is a bit worrisome, despite the Badgers recent stretch of great defense. The game is at 8 pm Central on BTN.