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Badger Bits: Wisconsin Clicking for Stretch Run

The Badgers look to be playing their best basketball when it matters most.

Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

It's only two games and I don't want to overreact to the Badgers' pummeling a depleted Northwestern team on Wednesday night. Nevertheless, I'm becoming very encouraged with the direction this team is headed.

Wisconsin has bounced back from a horrendous offensive performance against Minnesota to win its past two games by an average of 25 points while shooting 49.5 percent (52-of-105) from the floor.

I know Northwestern is awful right now and has guys playing significant minutes at the D-I level who probably shouldn't be, but Wisconsin did what good teams do: bury an inferior opponent.

Over the past couple years and even this season, we have all seen the Badgers play up or down to the level of their competition. That is the mark of an average team. But with Wisconsin clicking like it is on the offensive end, Bo Ryan's team is anything but average.

Let's not jump the gun and get too excited just yet, especially with many national pundits describing the Badgers as a trendy and hot pick to make a surprise deep run in March. However, as winners of five of their last six games, Wisconsin is passing the eye test with flying colors right now.

And I love it.

Jared Berggren looks better down in the post and his shooting struggles seem to have abated. He's 11-of-17 (64.7 percent) from the floor over the past two games and has stopped settling for threes. He's also number two on UW's all-time blocked shots list and needs just two more to set the school record.

Speaking of bounce backs, Traevon Jackson has looked much better since his egregious 3-for-14 shooting night against the Gophers. His level of control the past two games has been impressive: nine assists to just three turnovers. Let's hope this continues.

Ben Brust continued his stretch of brilliant play against Northwestern, pouring in 12 points to go along with eight rebounds. In his last six games, Brust is averaging 15 points per on just a shade under 47 percent shooting. And when is this guy going to get recognition as an outstanding rebounding guard?

And finally, everybody's favorite frosh: Sam Dekker. He's notched double-figures in four straight games and is really attacking offensively. I've said it all year long -- when he is aggressive and actively looking for his shot, the Badgers play at another level.

Up next on the slate for the Badgers are two home games against lowly Nebraska and Purdue next week. If Wisconsin continues to shoot the rock as it has of late, expect the good times to roll at the Kohl.

Friday’s Links:

The Wisconsin State Journal’s Jim Polzin profiles Josh Gasser as he rehabs torn ACL.

Tom Dienhart gives his top seven seniors in the Big Ten. Berggie sits at No. 5.

Check out the latest issue of Varsity Magazine. The profile on Dekker is a must-read.

SI’s latest power rankings have the Badgers sitting at 16. Is UW really Elite Eight or Final Four caliber?

If you love all things college basketball, give Seth Davis a read. There is even a little praise for Jackson near the bottom.