Badger Bits: Wisconsin Basketball is Maddening to Watch, and Pretty Darn Good

Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

The Badgers are good at everything except putting the ball in the hoop, making for some frustrating spectator basketball. Yet as hard as they are to watch, they find themselves right in the thick of Big Ten title contention.

These are your Wisconsin Badgers: 92nd in the country in effective field goal percentage, 332nd in free throw percentage, 24th in defensive efficiency, 26th in opponent eFG%. Only nine teams in college basketball play fewer possessions per game. Only five have done so over the last three games.

Wisconsin can play with anyone in the country, but to do so the Badgers devolve the game into something barely recognizable as basketball anymore. There is nothing resembling rhythm on either end of the court. The ball finds the net only by osmosis.

I'm pretty sure it's driving Bo Ryan crazy:

"One of these games we're going to make the nets move," he said. "Times are tough all over and we're saving a lot of money here at the university because these nets this year will be around 10 years compared to other gyms where they last a year or two."

Ryan was all jokes after Wisconsin's win over Minnesota on Saturday, because taking a real stance on your team after it shot 37 percent to somehow beat a quality opponent is a difficult thing to do. Wisconsin shouldn't be able to compete against anyone given the way it has shot the ball lately, yet here the Badgers are one game out first place in the Big Ten, having gone 3-1 in their last four games played against ranked opponents.

This feels like the football season all over again, where the team constantly bats away any attempt you make to form a narrative. At one point, we weren't sure whether this was even an NCAA Tournament team, and for good reason. Now they're in the Big Ten title hunt, albeit with a long way to go until the end of the regular season. Still, they've managed to win games while playing what many wouldn't qualify as "good" basketball. God forbid they hit a hot streak, the Badgers could actually take home the conference crown.

Jared Berggren said "you don't go cold on defense" after Saturday's win. There's a lot of comfort in that. Wisconsin is winning because it's playing impeccably well in every other aspect of the game except putting the ball in the hoopty-thing. That should continue all the while they work out the kinks on the offensive end. We'll probably be chewing our socks with anxiety in the meantime, but at least we can now confidently say that the Badgers can compete and win in a very strong Big Ten.

LINKS:

Frank Kaminsky has been cleared for non-contact work, though it looks like he will sit against Ohio State on Tuesday.

Jeff Potrykus takes a last look at Minnesota.

Obligatory schadenfreude via The Daily Gopher.

Ben Hemer, little brother to Ethan Hemer, will be a preferred walk-on at Wisconsin. He's 6-foot-5, 251 pounds, as a junior in high school, and is expected start out one the offensive line for the Badgers. Over/under months it takes to tip 300 pounds: 7.

The NCAA is still a big bag of dumb.

Wrapping up: That's one way to skirt NCAA rules.

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