5 Questions: Wisconsin

BRR talks with BadgerNation's Ben Worgull about the Wisconsin Badgers.

Wisconsin has won eight in a row, after losing five out of six at one point. What caused the turnaround?

"I don't think Wisconsin is in the position they are in now if they don't go through that rough stretch at the end of January. Sitting at 16-0, the best start in school history, the Badgers were third in the country in the AP poll, tops in the RPI and finished an incredibly challenging nonconference schedule with wins over Florida, Saint Louis, Virginia and others, but the Badgers hadn't been truly "punched in the mouth" until that losing streak.

UW found different ways to lose on that stretch (failing to guard the paint, failing to challenge the mid-range jumper, not finding ways to knock down shots, not finishing games) that all the different losses, in a way, finally shocked its system and taught them what it took to win. As a result, UW started doing the things defensively that resembled Wisconsin's gritty defensive teams of the past decade.

Throw in the fact that Wisconsin is enjoying its best offense of the Bo Ryan era (averaging 73.4 ppg, while ranking fifth in the nation in offensive efficiency according to KenPom.com with an avg of 1.19 points per possession), UW has become a tough team to beat. "

2.) How much is a possible No. 1 seed being talked about?

"A top seed is certainly in the realm of possibility, considering Wisconsin has played the third toughest schedule and has one of the best resumes in the country. I mentioned the non-conference wins against Florida, Saint Louis and Virginia, but UW is also 5-1 against the top25 of the RPI, has wins over five conference champions and is 7-1 against teams currently ranked in the top25 (the most of any team in the country).

It's widely assumed that Arizona, Florida and Wichita State are going to be No.1 seeds, and Wisconsin is likely battling Kansas, Villanova, Michigan and a few others for that last spot. Right now it appears the Badgers will fall just behind the Jayhawks, the regular-season Big 12 champ, for that last spot.

So what does UW need to do to get that No.1 seed? Win Sunday, get to the Big Ten tournament championship game and need Kansas to stumble."

3.) The offense really runs through Frank Kaminsky. When he's been held below his averages this season, what have teams been doing to him?

"Truthfully, Kaminsky does it to himself. The junior already was going to have a lot of pressure on his shoulders with UW graduating its three senior post players, so scoring 43 points to set the school's single-game scoring record in the fourth game of the season didn't temper those expectations.

And while Kaminsky started off Big Ten season fine, scoring nine-or-more-points in his first seven games, but lost confidence and aggressiveness during a three game stretch in January-February (4-for-16 overall, 0-for-6 from 3-point range, attempting one shot at Illinois). Saying that the low-post play of true freshman Nigel Hayes was a motivating factor, Kaminsky is shooting 54.7 percent (41-for-75) over the last seven games and has scored over 20 three times. When Kaminsky plays with an aggressive mindset and gets post touches, he's shown so far this season that he's hard to stop."

4.) How has Wisconsin handled loud and amped road environments this year and how do you think their style of play affects that?

"Wisconsin is 11-2 away from home (8-2 in true road games, 3-0 in neutral games) and posted four of those win against teams current ranked. The Badgers' 11 regular-season wins away from home is a new school record. The Badgers have actually lost more at home (three) than on the road, which is a tad surprising considering UW has won 90 percent of its home games under Bo Ryan.

Looking back over UW's schedule, the Badgers truly haven't fully unraveled in a hostile situation. In the last three road games (Michigan, Iowa, Penn State), Wisconsin has seen double-digit leads gone awry, but the Badgers have always punched back to escape with a victory."

5.) Your prediction and why?

"Everything I have heard suggests Nebraska's new arena is one of the toughest in the Big Ten. Cornhuskers need this win more than the Badgers do, as Wisconsin appears locked in to two seed in Milwaukee no matter what happens the next week before Selection Sunday. Tim Miles has done great things with Nebraska in year two, and I think he gets his signature win with a five-point decision."

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