Wisconsin Basketball: Win over Indiana Proves How Dangerous Badgers Are
Before the Big Ten conference tournament started, the Wisconsin basketball team was considered a dark-horse contender in this year's NCAA tourney. Now it could be considered a favorite.
The Badgers proved how dangerous they were Saturday, topping Big Ten favorite (and No. 4 ranked) Indiana with a dominating 68-56 effort.
The Hoosiers were only down by three at halftime but had no answer for the Badgers in a second half in which they were outscored 34-25.
Wisconsin entered the Big Ten tournament as the fourth seed, after going 12-6 in conference in the regular season.
The Badgers powered through a strong February, winning six of their seven games. But things started to slow in March, where they dropped their first two games—including the regular-season finale against Michigan State.
With those two losses in the past, Wisconsin is powering up at the right time. It dropped Michigan 68-49 in its first Big Ten tourney matchup and now has the victory over Indiana.
Taking a look at Wisconsin's team, it has all the makings of a successful March Madness team.
The Badgers have a squad filled with NCAA experience and veteran leadership. They have nine upperclassmen (including five seniors), and 2013 will mark the programs 12th NCAA tournament appearance under head coach Bo Ryan.
Defensively, you'd be hard pressed to find a team better than Wisconsin. It was the Big Ten's top-ranked defense this year, with opponents averaging only 56.1 points a game.
That's the ninth-best mark in the NCAA.
Forward/center Jared Berggren has been the true defensive star for the Badgers. The 6'10", 235-pound senior averages 7.1 rebounds per game, as well as a conference-leading 2.0 blocks per game.
While they're not the most turnover-savvy defense out there, they still know how to be opportunistic. Sophomore guard Traevon Jackson leads the team with 1.0 steal per game.
Offensively the Badgers aren't overwhelming, but they're efficient. They average 66.2 points per game.
Berggren and freshman forward Sam Dekker dominate the field, hitting over 48 percent of their shots. Right behind them is junior guard Ben Brust, who is shooting 43 percent from the field.
Wisconsin isn't filled with elite sharp shooters, but it does have three players shooting over 38 percent from beyond the arc. Leading that bunch is Dekker, who is 47-110 (42.7 percent) from three-point range this season.
Turnover wise, the Badgers are smart and strong facilitators. They finished the regular season ranking fourth in the NCAA in turnovers per game (9.6), and 13th in assist-turnover ratio (1.39).
The biggest hole in Wisconsin's game is free-throw shooting, which is vital in many of March's close games.
Where will Wisconsin end in this year's NCAA tournament?
As a team, the Badgers are shooting a Big Ten-worst 63 percent from the line. Jackson leads the team's starters in that department, and he's only shooting 75.5 percent.
But if the Badger's shooters remain as hot as they have been, that's a flaw that can be overcome.
Wisconsin still has a long ways to go, and the Big Ten conference tournament isn't even over yet. But the team has made itself known with its second win over Indiana, and it's built to win this March.
If the rest of the NCAA didn't have their eyes on Wisconsin before, they sure do now.
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