The Wisconsin Badgers men's basketball (13-9, 5-7 Big Ten) team has had the opportunity to win a few close games down the stretch and has just gone cold shooting.
Finishing layups and hitting shots late in games have been a struggle for the Badgers.
The bigger issue is poor shot selection. The Badgers' offense is moving the ball well, but they are taking poor shots.
They will have to play a complete game against the Penn State Nittany Lions (14-9, 5-7 Big Ten).
They will be playing a team that also runs a slow-paced game. So, if you are watching, expect a really slow-paced game.
The biggest issue is both teams can not afford to lose games down the stretch. So, the Badgers will get the Nittany Lions best game when the two teams face off on Wednesday.
Chucky Hepburn has said they need to get back to their defensive identity, and the offense will come easier.
The Nittany Lions score 45% of their points from three. If the Badgers can limit the Nittany Lions from the deep shot they'll make life easier.
In their first matchup this season the Badgers held Penn State to 8 of 20 from deep, which was a big reason the Badgers won the first matchup 63-60.
Normally the Nittany Lions shoot around 28 threes and make around 11. In their last game, Penn State shot the three 38 times while losing to Nebraska 72-63.
A big factor in this game is free throws. Both teams do not get to the charity stripe often.
Penn State and Wisconsin are in the bottom 20th in the country at getting to the free throw line. If a player gets to the free throw line this game, they have to make it count.
This game will come down to one thing. Can the Nittany Lions continue their hot streak at home?
Penn State is 11-1 at home this season, and has won three straight at home. Penn State is a different team at home, on the road they are 3-8.
Wisconsin on the other hand just recently broke a four-game losing streak on the road. They are 3-4 on the road, which is not good. They go back on the road as 4.5-point underdogs.
Penn State will be led by guard Jalen Pickett, who is averaging 17.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 7 assists on the season.
Offensively, Penn State has more firepower as they are a guard-heavy offense.
Whereas, Wisconsin is more of a defensive team that likes to dump it in the post and kick out to open shots. If Wisconsin can score they will be able to win, but the issue has been scoring as of late.
In the Badgers' last 5 games, they have only scored 60-plus points twice. They are averaging 57.2 points during their last 5 games, and 64.5 points per game on the season.
Penn State in their last 5 games has been in a scoring slump, they usually average 72.5 on the season. However, in their last 5 games, they have averaged 61 points per game.
The Badgers will have to force Penn State to shoot poorly from the field and shoot well. If they can not do this they will lose.
If they lose, this would turn into a bad season. Starting the year strong and just falling short of the NCAA Tournament would be very disappointing. With each loss, they get closer to being on the outside looking in during the NCAA Tournament.
This is a must-win game for Head Coach Greg Gard!