The Badgers dropped a nailbiter at home to Purdue, and in doing so stretched their losing streak to 5 games, and unprecedented number under Bo Ryan.
The biggest problem with this Badger squad is that no one can create their own shot. Hughes is too content to hoist up bad shots, Landry can be stopped by bigger forwards, and none of the younger guys (with the possible exception of Jordan Taylor) are very athletic. Last night you saw the Badgers put the clamps on Purdue for a good 5 minute stretch near the end of the second half, but they were unable to capitalize offensively, as they settled for several contested lay-up attempts off of the dribble. Keaton Nakivil was a bright spot, especially from behind the arc, but ultimately, Purdue was able to create open looks for their long-range shooters and Robbie Hubble buried the dagger.
The Badgers simply aren’t very that good this year. They still play fundamentally sound basketball (most of the time; there were some serious lapses yesterday), it’s just that they don’t have an Alando Tucker or Brian Butch to fall back on when things aren’t working.
That said, the Badgers have an easier stretch coming up. The best thing that they have going for them is that they don’t have to play at Michigan State or Minnesota until the very end of the season, and if they can regroup, they might be able to put up a few wins before then. If MSU and Minn were scheduled for this weekend and nest week, the losing streak would likely reach at least 7 and we could all kiss the NCAA tournament goodbye. As it is, they play at Northwestern, come home for Illinois, and then travel to face an improved Penn State over their next three games. That is followed by a home stand against Iowa and Ohio State.
I think the NCAA tournament looks like a longshot at this point, but it’s not over yet. While there are no good 5-game losing streaks, two of those losses were to a Purdue team that just seems to have their number, 4 were against ranked teams, (Purdue twice, Illinois, and Minnesota), and the other was a narrow loss at Iowa. You schedule matters a lot, and Bucky should show some improvement over the next 5 games just based on schedule.
Still, they could have used last night’s game. They lack a signature win, in my opinion, and if they make their way onto the NCAA tournament bubble, the lack of a big win is likely to keep them out.
37 minutes ago