Wisconsin returned home and regained their touch from the perimeter, beautifully working the ball inside-out and aggressively seeking open shots. A trend has begun to develop over the last few years in which the Badgers play tentative and are hesitant to shoot while on the road. Meanwhile, when playing at the Kohl Center, Wisconsin is aggressive on the offensive end and will shoot open jump-shots even if they are early in the shot-clock.
One of the biggest misconceptions is that Bo Ryan does not want players shooting early in the shot-clock. Rather, Ryan does not want his players shooting contested shots early in the shot clock when a little patience may pay off with an open look as the possession continues. Wisconsin embodied this sentiment tonight, playing assertive and shooting with confidence whenever an open look appeared.
Furthermore, the aggressiveness on the offensive end enabled the Badgers to get to the line 26 times, despite the game being a blowout by midway through the first half. Additionally, Wisconsin attacked the offensive glass and used crisp passing from the post to keep the Wolfpack defense scrabbling. NC State appeared to be consistently out of place on defense and routinely had to switch who they were guarding, resulting in numerous mismatches for Wisconsin.
Lastly, as expected, Ryan made the necessary adjustments when faced with a zone and made sure to put a player in the high post. As a result, the Badgers were able to work behind the zone and get easy looks at the basket, ultimately forcing NC State out of the zone.
The Badgers did a tremendous job on the defensive end and forced the Wolfpack to play a half-court game, resulting in a glaring lack of comfort on offense for NC State. Wisconsin packed in their defense and dared NC State to be patient on offense and run structured half-court sets, something the Wolfpack appeared neither capable of nor willing to do.
Moreover, Wisconsin eliminated the costly and careless fouls they had committed in the second half of the Notre Dame game. The Badgers returned to a Ryan staple and made more free throws than the Wolfpack attempted. NC State clearly looked befuddled by the position man-to-man defense the Badgers play and ultimately led to a number of turnovers and bad shots from the Wolfpack. Specifically, the Wolfpack appeared to become easily frustrated by their inability to get open looks in their half-court set and either rushed contested jump-shots or forced passes to players out of position or not open.
This was a great win for Wisconsin for a number of reasons. The Badgers gained a non-conference victory over an opponent that may challenge for a spot in the upper-half of a rather weak ACC. Second, Wisconsin put together a full forty minutes of quality basketball, something that had eluded them since before the UNLV game. Third, the Badgers regained their mojo on offense and appeared poised, confident, and aggressive on the offensive end.
Lastly, Wisconsin played Bo Ryan basketball: high percentage shots, low turnovers, make more free throws than their opponent, and frustrate the opposition into forced perimeter shots and careless turnovers.
Game MVP: Jon Leuer. Yet another game ball for Leuer in what will most likely turn into a broken record as the season progresses.