The Wisconsin Badgers suffered their second-straight loss, this time in embarrassing fashion during a 73-55 defeat against the Maryland Terrapins in what seems like the lowest point of the season to date.
The Badgers were battling in the first half, connecting on 6/7 shots to begin the game, but dissolved as the half neared an end, losing 32-28 to the Terrapins at the end of the half.
However, the second half was a completely different story.
Maryland began hot, hitting their first eight of nine shots for 17 points in the first six minutes, while the Badgers only made 40% of their attempts during that period.
The Terrapins never let the gas off, dominating the offensive glass and shooting efficiently to finish off the Badgers, who struggled to buy a basket as the game went on, scoring zero points in the last two minutes and losing 73-55.
With the embarrassing loss, the question has to be posed: Is this the lowest point of the season for the Badgers thus far?
The answer has to be yes, for the moment.
The Badgers have dropped five of their last six games, suddenly looking like a completely different team than the group that won 11 of their first 13 games and was ranked No. 14 in the AP Top 25.
The biggest, and perhaps most underrated factor, has been the team’s health.
Forward Tyler Wahl missed three games with an ankle injury that he sustained during Wisconsin’s 63-60 win over the Minnesota Golden Gophers, and the Badgers lost each of those outings: a 79-69 loss to the Illinois Fighting Illini, a 64-60 loss to the Michigan State Spartans, and a 63-45 loss to the Indiana Hoosiers.
Then, guard Max Klesmit exited Wisconsin’s 63-60 win over the Penn State Nittany Lions with an upper-body injury, and the Badgers have lost the two games after: a 66-63 loss to the Northwestern Wildcats and a 73-55 loss to the Maryland Terrapins tonight.
So, when the Badgers have been down a starter this season, they haven’t faced much success, going just 1-5, which has been directly correlated to their losing streak.
Additionally, the Badgers have been inefficient offensively as of late, especially on layups, while their defense hasn’t been as strong as usual during the past five games.
Albeit, the Badgers haven’t been with a top defender defensively over this stretch, with Klesmit being their best on-ball defender, while Wahl has been solid for stretches of time this season.
Wisconsin is a team already struggling with depth, and losing a key piece of the rotation only worsens that situation.
Lastly, the Badgers aren’t creating enough shots for guard Connor Essegian, who has been their most efficient player offensively when accounting for both two and three-pointers.
Essegian is the best shooter and cutter on the team, but it’s not noticeable to the naked eye, as the rest of the team struggles to get him the ball inside when he’s open going to the lane.
That’s a problem seen not only for Essegian, but the rest of the team, and the lack of an extra layer of passing is shown by Wisconsin’s lackluster assist numbers this season.
The Badgers could see guard Max Klesmit back soon, but need a clear rejuvenation on both sides of the ball to turn the season around.
That will be tough, as the Badgers play Illinois at home on Saturday, who defeated them earlier in the season, and have enjoyed a successful year thus far.