The No. 6 Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team (8-2 overall, 2-1 Big Ten) were upset at home by the Maryland Terrapins (6-3 overall, 1-2 Big Ten), 70-64, on Monday night. There were a number of things that could be learned from this game, but let’s take a look at three main ones.
And that'll do it from the Kohl Center— Bucky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) December 29, 2020
Maryland 70, No. 6 Wisconsin 64
Tough loss after a huge win on Christmas but, such is life in the B1G this year methinks.
Three things that stood out
No. 1: free throw shooting
The Badgers entered the game on Monday No. 3 in the conference, shooting 77% from the charity stripe, so of course they finished the game shooting 8-of-15 (53.3%) on free throws. Brad Davison, normally the best free throw shooter on the team, went 0-for-2 and Tyler Wahl, who is decidedly not one of the best free throw shooters on the team, went 2-for-6.
D’Mitrik Trice went 6-for-7 from the line, but these were the only three players to attempt a free throw for the Badgers all game. On the season, the Badgers had been averaging nearly 22 free throw attempts per game but against Maryland they only got to the line 15 times. The Terps also attempted 15 free throws, they just happened to make 12 of them.
Badgers shooting ::double checks:: 5-of-12 from the free throw line.— Bucky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) December 29, 2020
Wisconsin needs to see more free throw attempts from their big men, Nate Reuvers and Micah Potter only drew four fouls combined, as well as Davison, although he may have been a bit banged up from a fall he took in the first half on a drive leaving him more hesitant to take it to the tin.
No. 2: defensive intensity for a full game
Wisconsin has had their fare share of slow starts offensively this season but one thing that hasn’t seemed to waver is their defensive intensity. In the first half, the Badgers couldn’t buy a bucket to start but they didn’t allow the Terps to score either. It was a similar story for UW against Michigan State and is a refrain that we hear in every post game Zoom press conference “good defense leads to good offense.”
Whatever happened at halftime of this game, however, hopefully doesn’t happen again because the Badgers couldn’t stop Maryland at all for the last 12 or so minutes of the game. The Terps made 11 of their last 12 shots from the field, the only miss being an end of shot clock heave, and made 11 of their 12 free throws all half.
This is by no means the best way of calculating how well a defense played in a given game, however there is still some use to it, but Wisconsin only had four stocks (steals+blocks) while Maryland had eight. The Badgers also allowed the Terps to score 1.148 points per possession and let them shoot 18-of-20 on layups and dunks.
No. 3: what has happened to Nate Reuvers?
In his last six games, Reuvers has scored in double digits once and finished a game with an ORtg above 100 once. In his first four games of the season he scored in double figures and had an ORtg above 100 in all four games. So, what has happened to the UW big man?
Well, for one, the competition has gotten a little better. Reuvers was named KenPom game MVP after the season opener against Eastern Illinois where he scored 18 points, grabbed nine rebounds and swatted five shots and people started to think this was the year that he might make first team All-Big Ten. However, it has pretty much been a steady downward trend for Reuvers since the first game.
Against Maryland, Reuvers didn’t even play THAT poorly. Sure, his 4-of-10 shooting (0-of-2 from three) could have been better, but he chipped in eight points and six rebounds in 25 minutes of work. The thing is those would have been nice numbers for him during his freshman year. He’s now a senior and was supposedly one of the best players in the conference heading into the year.
Now? He’s regularly outplayed by Micah Potter (not against Maryland though) and seems to coast through the beginning of games before randomly coming alive in the second half to go on a mini scoring tear.
Reuvers hasn’t made a three pointer in three games and, as the school’s all-times blocked shots leader, only has one block over the same time frame. In four of his last five games he’s scored eight points (in the fifth he scored 10) and quite frankly that isn’t going to cut it. A little more aggression on the offensive end (he has nine free throw attempts in the last six games and two games with zero attempts) as well as a couple of blocked shots to get his head in the game seems to be in order.
BONUS No. 4: everything is still fine though
While this is a pretty negative post, which is to be expected when the team loses, there probably isn’t TOO much to read into about this game. The Badgers did not play particularly well and the Terps did. Wisconsin still only lost by six and it took a super-human shooting effort from Maryland to end the game.
Trice is playing out of his mind currently and, quite frankly, everybody else kind of had an off night at the same time. The Big Ten is a tough conference. They currently have nine teams ranked in the AP Top-25 with another receiving votes. Maryland wasn’t one of those teams which just shows you how freaking deep this conference is this year.
The Badgers weren’t going to go undefeated in conference play, so let’s chalk this up to a hungry Maryland team taking advantage of every Wisconsin mistake and offering the Badgers a useful learning experience moving forward, ok?