MADISON, Wis. - It was a long ride home for the No. 15 Wisconsin Badgers on Thursday night, stretching into the early hours of Friday morning as they trekked back to Madison after a 67-66 loss to the Iowa Hawkeyes. They arrived home at 3 a.m., but the Badgers were right back at practice Friday afternoon. The Badgers can ill afford luxuries like time, as they travel to Columbus Saturday for a Sunday afternoon game with the No. 9 Ohio State Buckeyes.
"Yeah I'm looking forward to getting some sleep tonight," sophomore guard Ben Brust joked after practice Friday. "(But) it's good for us to come out here and get moving."
The Badgers are no strangers to a quick turnaround between games. Coming off a tough loss to Michigan State last Thursday, the Badgers had just two days to prepare for Penn State, who they defeated 65-55 the following Sunday. Going into the game with the Nittany Lions, the Badgers stressed how the game helped them move on from their disappointment.
"Anytime you come off a loss like this it's nice to have a quick turnaround," sophomore guard Josh Gasser said. "(You) come into practice the next day, and focus on the next game. Obviously the whole bus ride home we were thinking about (the loss), but at this point in time we're focused on Ohio State."
But at the same time, having a quick turnaround between games can be a little challenging. Unlike last week, the Badgers are playing back-to-back road games, meaning they'll have about a day and a half at home before they head back out to another far-flung, hostile road environment.
"We can't really control that," Gasser said. "We're just focused on our next game. This quick turnaround makes it a little tougher. You get home at 3 a.m., and then you've got to travel a day and a half later, but at the same time it all boils down to what happens on the court, so we'll be ready either way."
Even after Sunday's game with Ohio State, it doesn't get much easier for the Badgers. They'll have just one day in between their game with the Buckeyes and a home date with Minnesota, making it tough to even catch their breath between games.
But it's not all negative for the Badgers. In fact, this marathon-stretch might help when the Big Ten Tournament rolls around in early March. If they get hot, they could play as many as three games in three days, a challenging prospect for any team.
"I think it is going to prepare us for tournament time," Gasser said. "Once the Big Ten Tournament comes around we're going to be playing game after game, hopefully, and same in the NCAA Tournament. The most important thing with this is the one or two days we get to practice, we just really have to focus."
Brust agreed with his fellow underclassman.
"It's a long season," Brust said. "You've got to take every little bit of experience that you've gained, whether it's a bunch of home games in a row or a bunch of away games in a row, so you've got to be ready for anything in the postseason."
But before the Badgers look too far ahead to March and the madness that comes with it, they still have a game to play and some problems to fix. But again, having another game so quickly might pay dividends for the Badgers. Sometimes it's just a matter of getting back out there, and not over thinking what went wrong in one game.
We'll soon find out if the quick turnaround between games is a boon for the Badgers after all. The Badgers are scheduled to play the Buckeyes at 3 p.m. CST this Sunday, with the game scheduled to air on CBS.