I've already gotten into it with a number of basketball fans from other B1G teams about the Badgers' foul issues. It seems that basically everyone is convinced that we foul every damn play and only get away with it sometimes because "the refs can't call everything, right?" The NCAA changed the rules specifically to keep teams like Wisconsin from fouling all the time, right?
And here's why. Even if you prescribe to the belief that the Badgers are getting away with some fouls because they're just hacking away all the time and the refs won't call everything, surely they'll get called some of the time. I mean, it's not like the refs would ignore the majority of fouls or anything. They might give you some ticky tack stuff, but you're going to get away with everything. As such, Wisconsin should still be getting called enough to rank at least in the top half of teams in the B1G if they're getting handsy, right? Unfortunately I was unable to find a tempo free stat of any sort on player fouls. Guys like Pomeroy and the folks over at sports-reference.com and maybe hoop-math certainly have the data to create this, but none of them seem to have it available to the public. So I set out to calculate the stat myself.
I got total foul stats and total games stats from sports-reference.com for all B1G teams, and pulled the tempo for each team from kenpom.com. Plug them into a spread sheet and do a little math and this is what you get (click for a much clearer image):
The list is sorted in ascending order by possessions per foul (or descending by fouls per possession, I suppose) so you're seeing the teams listed in order from most penalized to least penalized. Wisconsin is firmly in last place, with the only team even remotely close being a Michigan team that played in the national championship last year. Unless someone is convinced that we should have been called for twice as many fouls as we were actually called for last year, there's simply no way to say that Wisconsin is hack happy.
Even this year, with the change in rules, we seem to be fairly middle of the pack at this point. And that's with a tiny sample size. Give it another 10 games and I can revisit this stat to see how the new rules have affected us. Until then, point this out to anyone who says we were bullies who just got away with some of it last year. Or point them here. Or copy the image and post it all over their comment section. Take your pick.
One final takeaway: While we're slow, kenpom doesn't have us being that much slower than a few B1G teams. Illinois, Nebraska, and Michigan (they of national championship berth) were all in our ballpark for tempo, and Northwestern (may God have mercy on their souls) were even slower than us.