September 21, 2014

Badgers expect a better Northwestern team tonight

The last time the 14th ranked Wisconsin Badgers faced Northwestern was

Josh Gasser

Josh Gasser

in the Big Ten opener.  The Badgers were in the midst of what turned out to be a 16-game winning streak.

The Badgers marched into Welsh Ryan-Arena and dominated, cruising to a
76-49 win over the Wildcats.

That Northwestern isn’t the same as the one that’s expected to show up at the Kohl Center tonight.  After losing their first three games, the Wildcats have bounced back to win three of their last four.

AUDIO: Josh Gasser says the Wildcats are playing much better :16

Northwestern is last in the Big Ten in field goal percentage (36 %), three-point field goal percentage (23.4) and free throw percentage (67.8).

The Wildcats have been tougher, they’ve played better defense and they’re playing at a slower tempo, trying to maximize every offensive possession to help overcome deficiencies in talent and experience.

The Wildcats earned wins over Illinois, Indiana and Purdue, despite shooting less than 38% in each of those games.

The difference in those games has been defense.  Northwestern held Illinois to 28%, Indiana 25% and Purdue to 27.6% shooting from the field.

Even in the Wisconsin game on January 2, Northwestern fell behind 40-14 at the half and played the Badgers even in the second half.

The Badgers have had plenty of their own issues of late.  They finally put an end to their 3-game losing streak on Saturday by beating Purdue 72-58.  Wisconsin’s defense was better in that game, but far from perfect.

AUDIO: Bo Ryan says defense is a work in progress :16

Josh Gasser said they all want to be better and they all want to win.  It’s time to do more than talk and do what’s necessary to make it all happen.