Grades: Sometimes Lucky Is Good Enough

The Badgers squeaked out a 53-52 win Wednesday night at Michigan thanks to some strong second-half defense and an, ahem, fortunate Josh Gasser three-pointer to win the game at the buzzer.

MADISON — As Wisconsin has struggled on the road this season, sporting a 3-5 record at opponents gyms heading into Michigan Wednesday night, no one has argued the Badgers lack of success away from the Kohl Center equates to a lack of effort.

No, the problem, if not the solution, was obvious. Wisconsin shoots the ball absurdly better at the Kohl Center than it does on the road.

UW did little different Wednesday night in the 53-52 soul-crushing win over the Wolverines.

With nine offensive rebounds, the effort was there. With 36 field goal percentage, so were the shooting woes.

The difference this time was a little luck — for once, a bailout at the bank was more than welcome. Offense: D

As the nation's most efficient team by points per possession, Wednesday was another road disaster for the Badgers. With 55 possessions, Wisconsin couldn't even crack the average 1.0 PPP mark.

Per usual, it was off-the-mark three-point shooting that did UW in away from Madison. Going 8-for-29 from behind the arc, UW never put together that run to bury the Wolverines. For just the second game this season, Jon Leuer didn't connect on a trey — missing all six deep attempts.

On the plus side, Jordan Taylor continues to state his case as best Big Ten Player Not Named Jared Sullinger. The junior point guard led the team of 20 points on 8-of-19 shooting while chipping in his usual five assists and one turnover. He came through whenever UW desperately needed a bucket, and came up with the final assist on Gasser's winning bank.

For the second time this season, only five Badger players scored in the game. Even with that, Gasser and Tim Jarmusz combined for just eight points, meaning the Big Three accounted for 85 percent of the points.

With more Big Ten games on the road this season, the search for a winning formula continues. Gasser likely cannot cash in that check twice in one season.

Defense: B+

After a difficult first half in which the Badgers forgot how to keep opponents out of the paint, UW clamped down in the second half, only allowing 21 points over the final 20 minutes.

Gasser and Jarmusz harassed leading scorer Darius Morris into an awful game, letting up just eight points and four turnovers. Gasser didn't go for his many ball fakes and Jarmusz got his hand on three balls in the lane.

Similar to the luck on Gasser's three-pointer, Wisconsin was fortunate that Michigan missed six straight free throws to close out the game

Overall: C

For the Big Ten standings and when it is viewed by the NCAA Selection Committee, this win will just be another road win in the Big Ten against a bubble team. And I'm sure Bo Ryan and Co. will say they got the 'W' and that is all that matters.

But viewed honestly, the win was luck and little more. It was fortunate that Michigan missed its last six free throws and that Gasser banked his three-pointer in. UW defended well, but continued their season-long trait of brick-laying on the road.

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