Badger Bits: Where Do They Stand?

USA TODAY Sports

Each week involves tough opponents in the Big Ten, but with redemption on the line against Iowa and another potential marquee victory looming against Michigan, we'll see where Wisconsin deserves to stand in the conference.

In sports journalism, all too often do we hear how a certain game or sequence of games is labeled as "important" or "must win." It's also a pet peeve of mine when a color commentary analyst for a football game says there's a "big" or "critical" upcoming drive, and it's too early in the game to make such a bold statement.

The point is, I'm not going to label this week for Wisconsin basketball with these overused terms. I do, however, believe this is the week we discover where the Badgers belong in the Big Ten pecking order.

Which team are the Badgers this season? The one that started 4-0 in conference play and beat Indiana on the road? Or the team ran out of the building -- at least in the first half -- at Iowa. Most of us would agree it's somewhere in between, but this Badgers team has been tough to put a finger on.

Right now, Wisconsin is 15-7 on the season, fifth in the Big Ten standings with a 6-3 record. With home contests against Iowa on Wednesday and Michigan on Saturday, we'll see if the Badgers can compete for a conference title or simply stay in the middle of the pack.

Jim Polzin of the Wisconsin State Journal lays out why the Big Ten title is still in reach for UW, but I don't see it realistically in reach down the stretch.

What is the true identity of this Wisconsin team? Personally, the Badgers look to be about the fifth- or sixth-best team in the conference this season, and that's where I see them finishing. But if the team wants to hold onto an outside shot of competing for a conference title, it's imperative it wins both home games this week.

Tuesday's Links:

Juco transfer QB Tanner McEvoy is excited for the opportunity to play at Wisconsin and the fact he's now the only quarterback on the team recruited by new head coach Gary Andersen and his staff.

Andy Baggot says it's time to get rid of National Signing Day.

Dave Heller in a Q&A with UW walk-on and Cederberg's own Matt Johnson. In an unlikely sequence of events, Johnson's dad sent a tape of his son's highlights to Wisconsin's coaching staff and the rest fell into place from there.

Tom Dienhart presents his mid-season Big Ten basketball honors.

Ohio State SLIGHTLY redesigns its athletic logo. See if you can even spot the difference.

Proceeds of the Wisconsin football spring game will benefit the UW School of Pharmacy.

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