The Wisconsin Badgers(14-10, 6-8) have a tough matchup on Tuesday evening with their season on the line against the Michigan Wolverines(14-11, 8-6) at the Kohl Center.
Tuesday’s game comes on the heels of a disappointing loss for Wisconsin against the Nebraska Cornhuskers where they blew a 17-point lead in the second half, eventually losing by 10 in overtime in a dramatic collapse.
However, it appears that the team is trending up, as head coach Greg Gard praised their efforts in practice between the two games, believing that the Badgers are ready for the challenge that the Wolverines will present.
“I thought they practiced really well [on Sunday]. You know, as I’ve always said for years, the film doesn’t lie. So, what I saw and felt and thought personally played itself self out [against Nebraska], if not even more on film. And, so we went through it. And like I said, gotta be better,” Gard acknowledged.
According to Gard, the team understood their shortcomings, responding well both on the court and in the weight room.
“They understood it. There was no doubt coming out of that film session. I always, again, watch their response because they went from film to lifting, and then I get the report from how they are in the weight room. And then how do they respond and react on the court? And, I thought they responded really, really well, and it’s the same thing with the report I got from the [weight] room,” said Gard.
Regardless of the outcomes, Gard usually gauges where his team is at mentally, and felt impressed by their response on Sunday.
“You’re always concerned about those things and watch those things, regardless whether we’ve won 10 in a row or or not. I always try to gauge that every day to see where they’re at. I was very happy and impressed with how they how they responded yesterday.”
But, the Badgers did face several issues on Saturday, especially in the second half, which spoke to their problems with consistency that have been prevalent all season long.
“I mean, we would do so many good things in the first [half], you know, to get that lead, and then do a complete 180 in terms of who we need to be and how we need to play,” said Gard.
However, the issues for Wisconsin began in the first half, even if the score and outcome at the time didn’t necessarily indicate so.
“It showed a little bit in the first half as you peel back the tape. We fouled too much, even though it didn’t get us in deep trouble. There [were] some signs of that. And there were some signs of us not being good in transition defensively.”
After seeing issues with some of the little things, the Badgers just collapsed in the second half, which Gard understands his team needs to fix.
“It went from a little hint to you know, six-alarm fire in the second half,” said Gard. “That’s the thing you’re always trying to understand. Just be solid. We don’t have to make superhuman plays. You know, this group has to hopefully, through experience, figure out one or two things [that] go wrong. You can’t turn that into a dozen things that went wrong and it keeps snowpiling on or snowballing on itself. So that’s an area where we’ve got to mature and, and continue to grow.”
It’s promising to hear that the mood hasn’t changed for the Badgers since the disappointment that occurred on Saturday, but that’s been the case all season and change has yet to come.
The season was on the line against the Cornhuskers this past weekend, and the Badgers couldn’t capitalize on their significant lead.
Can they change that outcome on Tuesday against a prolific offensive team? It certainly could happen, but I predict a close game where the Wolverines ultimately prevail, shutting the door on the Badgers’ hopes for a postseason opportunity.