Plenty of basketball remains, but UW is in good shape
Their resume still lacks a major road win, but at 8-2, the Badgers are on track for their 13th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
Wisconsin's win at Marquette Saturday was one it badly needed. It's not on the level as UW's win at Texas in 2007, but it was only the Badgers' second true road game of the year and if the Golden Eagles make a run at the NCAA Tournament themselves -- as they should -- it's a win that will look very good in March.
With two "should-wins" left on the non-conference schedule, the Badgers are poised to enter the Big Ten season with a 10-2 record. The loss to Notre Dame will continue to haunt Wisconsin throughout the year, but as of Sunday night, both UNLV and the Irish are ranked so neither loss is all that bad.
That leaves just one question: How will the Badgers fare in what will be a treacherous Big Ten slate?
There are 18 Big Ten games; nine at home, nine on the road. I figure the Badgers will lose at least one home game and maybe even two considering that Illinois, Michigan State, Purdue and Ohio State all visit the Kohl Center. This team has yet to "wow" me so let's say UW goes 7-2 at home.
Looking at the road portion of the schedule, the Badgers should win games at Penn State, Iowa, Michigan and Indiana. But based on what I have seen from this team so far, I think they drop one of these "should-wins" on the road. That leaves games at Illinois, Michigan State, Northwestern, Purdue and Ohio State. I don't see the Badgers winning any of these games.
That's a 3-6 road record added to a 7-2 home record. A 10-8 Big Ten showing would mean a 20-10 overall record, but considering the Big Ten competition, I think that's good enough to get into the dance.
Only one of those losses would look bad (the one road loss to either Penn State, Iowa, Michigan or Indiana) and there would be plenty of good Big Ten wins at home, plus the road win at Marquette and the blowout of North Carolina State.
But even in this case, how much better would the resume look if UW had just finished off Notre Dame?