INDIANAPOLIS -- Great teams peak in March. Unfortunately for the Wisconsin Badgers, they are doing the exact opposite for the second straight year.
The Badgers have lost their last three Big Ten Tournament games since winning it all in 2008 and the latest defeat was a 36-33 debacle that threatened to set the game back several decades. Badgers' point guard Jordan Taylor called his team's performance "embarrassing" after the game and senior forward Keaton Nankivil said the Badgers need to "rededicate themselves".
But when asked why they are playing their worst at the end of the season, the players didn't have many answers. One reason could be that they are simply a different team away from the Kohl Center where they have won 19 straight games. On the season, Wisconsin is shooting nine percentage points worse away from home.
That doesn't bode well for the NCAA Tournament, especially when you consider the Badgers aren't hard to figure out on tape. Jon Leuer and Jordan Taylor take the bulk of their shots - the two combined to score 26 of UW's 33 points Friday night - and there aren't many other offensive threats elsewhere on the team.
When the shots aren't falling - and they rarely do away from home - Wisconsin can't compete with the nation's best. Bo Ryan has only advanced out of the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament once in the last five years and if his team can't "rededicate themselves" in a hurry, it might be once in the last six years by next week.
Bruesewitz banged up
The Badgers have stayed healthy all season long, but the status of Mike Bruesewitz is in doubt after he rolled his right ankle in the second half and appeared to injure his right knee as a result.
The official word was a "lower leg injury" and Bruesewitz will be re-evaluated Saturday.
There was some unofficial promising news, however, as Ryan Evans told Bucky's 5th Quarter exclusively "I think Mike should be fine." Evans added that he didn't know the official diagnosis.
Had the Badgers beat Penn State, they likely would be opening the NCAA Tournament in Chicago at the United Center. That probably won't happen now.
Purdue opened the door wide open for the Badgers to get a higher overall seeding and earn the berth to Chicago when the Boilermakers lost to Michigan State by 18 points right before Wisconsin took the floor. Unfortunately, UW failed to take advantage.