Three-Point Shot: No.23 Illinois

Before No.4 Wisconsin takes on No.23 Illinois at the Kohl Center Wednesday evening, Badger Nation looks at the three burning questions we're looking to have answered.

It took Wisconsin awhile to get going against No.22 Iowa, making some uncharacteristic plays along the way in the first half, but the Badgers were able to make the correct adjustments at halftime to pull out a nail-biting victory Sunday night.

Even after a tough test, things won't get any easier for Wisconsin as they take on No.23 Illinois, which is 13-2 on the season and undefeated in the Big Ten.

In this Badger Nation feature, we will look at the three keys or questions for Wisconsin to have success against Illinois.

Lay up: Can Traevon Jackson and Sam Dekker have bounce-back games?

Jackson and Dekker each played their worst games offensively on the season so far and it's kind of impressive to think that despite their poor performances the Badgers were still able to win against a talented Iowa team.

Dekker finished the game 2-for-12 from the field and finished with eight points, but was able to make his shots when they mattered most. Dekker will certainly come out looking for his shot and should come out attacking the basket.

Although Jackson shot the basketball better then Dekker, he committed an uncharacteristic seven turnovers. Jackson's failure to take care of the basketball again could allow Illinois to stay in the game. If Jackson continues to struggle, look for Bronson Koenig to get a chance to run the offense. Despite Koenig's limited time at the point guard position, he has shown that he can take care of the basketball with only eight turnovers on the season.

Mid-range jumper: Can Wisconsin protect the paint?

Over the last two games in the Big Ten, it has become clear that Wisconsin needs to do a better job of defending the low post. In last two games against Northwestern and Iowa, half of the Wildcats and Hawkeye points came in the paint (Northwestern scored 26 of its 49 and Iowa had 36 of its 71 in the paint).

Frank Kaminsky and Nigel Hayes have to do a better job. Kaminsky has improved his defense from a year ago but at times needs to be a more aggressive down low. Although Hayes has been stepping his game up over the last four contests, he still needs some work to do defensively. He still needs to learn how to move his feet properly so he doesn't pick up fouls that can be prevented.

Illinois big men Jon Ekey and Nnanna Egwu are averaging 8.4 and 7.9 points, respectively. Even though Egwu and Ekey aren't averaging double figures, look for Illinois to try and get some easy points in the paint if Kaminsky and Hayes struggle to defend the hoop.

3-pointer: Can Wisconsin slow down Rayvonte Rice?

Rice - a Drake transfer - is averaging 18.7 points a game for Illinois and has been an efficient shooter, shooting at 48 percent from the field. Gasser will most likely draw the match up of Rice and have the tough task of forcing him into mistakes. Rice is averaging only one turnover a game but if Gasser can slow down Rice, it will force other players on Illinois to try and beat the Badgers.

The Badgers have struggled at times to contain their opposition's best players. Roy Devyn Marble scored 27 points against the Badgers and Wisconsin will need to do a better job of figuring out how they can slow Rice down.

Despite leading Illinois in scoring, Rice is averaging only five free throws attempts a game. If Gasser can prevent Rice from driving, creating space on offense and not settle for mid-range jump shots, the Badgers should be fine. Gasser needs to try and force Rice to shoot the basketball from the 3-point range, where he's only shooting 34 percent. If Gasser can make Rice uncomfortable, it will mean good things for Wisconsin.


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