David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Maybe that was boring, but boy, was it needed. The Badgers used their distinct size advantage to out-muscle the Wildcats, and now they can rest easy for the next week.
After three straight overtime bonanzas, the Wisconsin Badgers have two delightful blowouts to hang their hats upon.
Granted, Northwestern is a far, fry cry from Ohio State. But hey, who'll complain about a 28-point road win?
The Badgers (19-8, 10-4 Big Ten) routed the Wildcats (13-14, 4-10 Big Ten), 69-41, at Welsh-Ryan Arena on Wednesday night. It was also "Social Media Night" in Evanston, and we received minimal douchery from Darren Rovell. Consider it an all-around victory for the good guys.
On the court, the central theme was simple. Wisconsin used the size advantage Jared Berggren, Ryan Evans & co. presented over Northwestern's four-guard starting five to tremendous results. The Badgers out-rebounded the Wildcats, 43-19, and hauled in 14 offensive rebounds. Jared Berggren and Ben Brust (12 points and eight rebounds apiece) both approached double-doubles, while Sam Dekker added 10 points of his own for his fourth straight double-digit scoring game. In this one, though, he saw just 18 minutes on the floor after seeing at least 20 in his last three games.
After building a 28-12 halftime lead (how's that for Big Ten offense?), Wisconsin opened the second half somewhat sluggishly. Northwestern crept to within 12 points, but on a night where they shot 29.4 percent (15-of-51) from the field, the Wildcats just didn't muster enough production to compensate for their disadvantage in the paint. Reggie Hearn scored 13 points on 4-of-14 shooting, while Dave Sobolewski and Tre Demps each added eight points. No other Wildcat scored more than three points, however.
All in all, it resulted in the Badgers' biggest road win of the Big Ten slate. Wisconsin now has off until Tuesday, when it hosts Nebraska at the Kohl Center. Like they did Wednesday night, the Badgers will once again break out the white-on-white adidas "Bleed Out" uniforms for the third time this season.
After that, the Badgers get Purdue at home for Senior Day before trips to Michigan State on March 7 and Penn State on March 10. At 10-4, Wisconsin sits behind Indiana (12-2) and Michigan State (11-3) in the Big Ten. Michigan lies just a half-game behind at 9-4, while Ohio State sits at 9-5. Who knows how that picture will shake out, but remember when another top-four finish seemed ridiculous for Bo Ryan's squad? Let's leave it at that.