The No. 11 Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team (16-7 overall, 8-4 Big Ten) is set to play the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (12-10 overall, 4-7 Big Ten) on the road amidst a three-game in-conference skid that has triggered the panic alarms in Badger Nation.
Wisconsin has suffered a blown 19-point lead against Nebraska, a loss at home against Purdue, and most recently an upset handed to them by a Michigan team that sits at last place in the Big Ten.
Greg Gard and his program will travel to play the Scarlet Knights who have won their last two games with strong defensive efforts holding their last two opponents under 60 points.
Wisconsin will have their work cut out for them against a team that has performed well at home (9-3) but will need to win this one in order to stop from falling any further in the Big Ten standings.
Here are a few things the Badgers have struggled with in the last week and a half.
Wisconsin’s seven-foot bruiser is a vital part of the team’s gameplan, but throughout their current losing streak, opposing teams have kept the big man at bay.
In the last three games, Steven Crowl has failed to score in the double-figures.
Against the Cornhuskers, he recorded just one point, and only added three points to the Badgers offensive production against Michigan.
Wisconsin’s junior forward has reached double-figures in 13 games so far this season and the Badgers have gone 10-3 in games he eclipses that mark.
To get back on track, Gard will need to feed his big man down low and let him clash with Rutgers forward Clifford Omoruyi in what will likely be a physical defensive matchup.
Before the Badgers took on Nebraska on Feb. 1, the team was shooting a respectable 36 percent from range, but in the last three games, 3-point makes have been harder to come by.
During that stretch, Wisconsin has made 18 of 69 attempts from the arc, hitting just 26 percent of their shots. Against Purdue, the Badgers shot a season-low 16% from deep while sinking just three of their 19 attempts.
In a game against Rutgers where points may be a valuable commodity, it will be important for the Wisconsin offense to get their shots to fall through at a more consistent rate.
After giving away a 19-point first-half lead the Badgers have not been able to shake the total reversal in momentum since the second half against Nebraska last week.
With an opportunity to bounce back against a very talented Purdue team at home, Wisconsin could not hit a shot from deep and was outrebounded by 13 total rebounds throughout the contest.
The negative momentum had such a strong impact that the Badgers were defeated by an eight-point underdog Michigan team that is barely above .500.
Despite already competing in five top 25 matchups, this game in Piscataway, New Jersey may prove to be the most important of the season for the Badgers as they attempt to course correct with only a handful of opportunities left before the Big Ten Tournament in March.