Basketball in the State of Wisconsin: Slip Sliding Away
The three big basketball teams in Wisconsin (NCAA's Marquette and Wisconsin, and the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks) have all slowly been "slip-slidin' away" as the year goes along.
Yes, that is indeed a Simon and Garfunkel reference.
There is another line from the song that sums up their seasons so far: "You know the nearer your destination, the more you slip slidin' away."
The Badgers got off to a typical start by playing well out of conference, but hitting bumps once Big Ten play began.
Wisconsin hit a stretch in which they lost six straight games, including two at home, (an uncharacteristic trait by a Bo Ryan team).
They followed that with a nice five-game winning streak, but have now lost two of their last three.
The most recent was a heartbreaking loss to Minnesota in "The Barn," where the Badgers had a golden opportunity to win, but faded away.
Senior Marcus Landry can only carry the team so far. Trevon Hughes can make some great plays on offense, but he always seems to be the one causing the mistakes that lose the game for Wisconsin.
The good things that the Badgers have going for them is that they have a deep bench and one of the better freshmen classes out there.
The bad, however, is that the bench isn't as good as the starting five, and the freshman, of course, lack the experience at the college level.
The Badgers have one game left, against Indiana, which should result in a win, but they need to make the finals in their conference tournament to turn some heads.
So the closer that Wisconsin gets to the Big Dance...
Marquette Golden Eagles
Marquette got off to a hot start, going 20-2 entering February, but have gone 3-5 in their last eight games.
Of course, the Golden Eagles' biggest loss came during their game against UConn, when senior point guard Dominic James injured his foot very early in the game.
Marquette seems totally lost without its normal 11.4 ppg and 5.1 apg from James. No one looks like they want to step up and fill his shoes, either.
The Golden Eagles usually only play eight guys on a given night, but they do have other playmakers besides their starting five.
In the two games since James' injury, Marquette has kept it close down the stretch, but recently got heavily out-played by Pittsburgh.
Marquette has one game left as well, versus Syracuse, which could easily go in favor of the Orange.
Will a loss to 'Cuse result in Marquette ending the season out of the Top 25? Can the Golden Eagles win another game this season?
It's quite possible that the answer is 'yes' to the first question and 'no' to the second.
There's no doubt that Marquette will be in the NCAA Tournament, but it is possible that they will have a first round exit.
The good things about the Golden Eagles is that they are athletic and can play good defense, with Jerel McNeal, Wesley Matthews, and Lazar Hayward leading the way.
Those three can also score with the best, but they need help because there are five guys on the floor at one time.
The bad thing is that no one seems to be stepping up and taking over the leadership role left by James, and teams need a clear-cut leader.
Marquette will be one of the 64 teams, but as the Dance nears...
Not too many Wisconsinites still care about their NBA team and wouldn't mind or be surprised if they became the next Seattle Supersonics.
The Bucks haven't been the same since 2001, when they were one game away from the NBA Finals.
This year is no different, and is doesn't help that the team's two big guns are injured.
Andrew Bogut has back issues and might miss the rest of the year, while the star of the team, Michael Redd, tore his ACL and will not suit up until next season.
Richard Jefferson and Charlie Villanueva have taken over the scoring, but they can't do it alone.
Milwaukee still has a shot at the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference because the conference is weak, but they are a hit-or-miss team.
Yes, the 29-35 record that Milwaukee has is still good enough to garner a playoff possibility.
They have lost four out of their last five, with the win coming against the lowly Washington Wizards.
With over a month left, can the Bucks hang on to that final spot in the East?
So, once again, as the NBA playoffs near...
Basketball in the state of Wisconsin is nearing its respective destinations, but the closer that everybody gets to that point...the more they are 'slip-slidin' away'.
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