Three-Point Shot: Purdue

Before No.9 Wisconsin takes on Purdue at Mackey Arena tonight, Badger Nation looks at the three burning questions we're looking to have answered.

For the fifth time under Bo Ryan, Wisconsin has lost three straight games. After starting the season winning 16 straight games, it's hard to understand what is happening with the Badgers, although it's easy to see why it's happening at the same time.

Although Wisconsin is efficient on the offensive end, they can't seem to figure out how to become a better defensive team. Whatever Ryan is teaching or coaching in practice to his players on how to improve their defense, the Badgers are clearly struggling to apply what they are learning.

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

Lay up: Can the Badgers start strong and have good possessions?

With the way the defense is playing for Wisconsin, it seems like the offense is going to have to score on every offensive possession just to stay in the game. If the Badgers get down they have shown they can put together offensive possessions where they can score consistently, but the problem is they usually trade baskets with their opponent.

In their three losses, the Badgers have shown that they can be impatient and will take shots too early in the shot clock, which results in wasted possessions. Even if the shot is an open one, Wisconsin is sometimes better served using the swing offense to see if they can get a better shot.

With Wisconsin sometimes taking shots too early in the shot clock, the Badgers have failed to grab offensive rebounds to give the offense second-chance opportunities. When Wisconsin has a short possession on offense it doesn't make the defense work on the defensive end. If Wisconsin can make Purdue work, the Badgers in return could possibly make life easier for themselves on defense if they can wear down their opponent.

Mid-range jumper: Can Wisconsin find an adequate rim protector?

Probably not this late into the season but the Badgers are going to struggle to find victories in the Big Ten until it fortifies this problem. Jared Berggren filled this role perfectly last year and even though Frank Kaminsky's size and athleticism is equal to Berggren, Kaminsky has shown that it's not yet an area of strength of his. He has shown glimpses of being able to protect the hoop but hasn't been able to consistently put together a great defensive performance.

Even though Kaminsky has struggled against other bigs, he is also the last line of defense if one of the Badger guards allows dribble penetration. Traevon Jackson and Josh Gasser can't seem to slow anyone down right now. Jackson and Gasser both have been considered to be solid defenders but appear to have taken a step back on the defensive side this year. It's understandable with Gasser with his knee. Jackson doesn't appear to have an excuse.

Even when the guards can't drive to the hoop, teams are figuring out that a simple screen will do the trick to get open. Wisconsin needs to do a better job of hedging through the screens and communicate the switches. It just seems like when Wisconsin has no awareness on defense.

3-pointer: Can Wisconsin slow down A.J. Hammons?

Hammons could have a field day against Kaminsky and Nigel Hayes with the way Wisconsin is defending the post. Hammons has only failed to score in double digits once since Big Ten play started, averaging 14.5 points a game with two double doubles.

Purdue will look for Hammons early and often and could run its offense through him to see if they can get easy two points down low. Kaminsky can't get into foul trouble like he did against Minnesota. Once he went out it became too easy for the Gophers on offense.

Not only will Wisconsin have to slow down Hammons on offense, they'll also have to make sure to keep him off the glass. Hammons is averaging 7.1 rebounds and is a big reason why Purdue ranks 18th in the NCAA in rebounds per game (40.3 per game).

Wisconsin all season has not fared well against strong rebounding teams but if the defense can get stops and make life hard for Hammons and the Purdue offense, Wisconsin has to grab the rebound. The Badgers can't allow multiple opportunities for the Boilers, or they'll be playing catch up.

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