Game Day Grades - Northwestern

No.14 Wisconsin got four players in double figures, but the Badgers need stout defense down the stretch to outlast Northwestern. Badger Nation hands out the grades.

MADISON - Wisconsin managed to turn a sure win into an exciting game, beating Northwestern 70-63. After shooting 75 percent from the field in the first half, the Badgers turned cold as ice against Northwestern's zone defense, dropping to 26%. In other words, Wisconsin aced the midterm, but nearly failed the final.

Offense: C+

The C+ is an average of a first half A and a second half D-. Shooting 51.3 percent on the game is great and all, and would normally the Badgers at least a B+ after scoring 70 points, but shooting 26.3 percent in the second half is inexcusable. Coming off a game in which poor second half shooting cost them a victory, Coach Ryan has to be a little concerned. The Badgers missed a lot of opportunities against the zone, failing many times to get the ball into the post, where Jon Leuer had a big size advantage over Michael Thompson. A few Wisconsin turnovers (including an uncharacteristic four turnovers by Jordan Taylor) early in the second half made the Badgers tentative against the zone.

Hesitancy forced Taylor and Hughes into bad shots deep into the shot clock (the two combined for 1-of-8 in the second half from behind the arc), rather than working the ball to the open man like in the first half. To prove it, the 3-point percentages were 55.6 percent (5-9) in the first and 18.2 percent (2-11) in the second.

Defense: C-

Give Northwestern credit for some decent shooting, but the Badgers allowed the Wildcats a little too much room to work. Letting an athletic team into the lane can be excused. No offense, but letting Northwestern into lane at will is a little harder to swallow. Northwestern isn't bad at protecting the ball, so only forcing six turnovers is understandable. What Bo should really be concerned about is the amount of open looks the Wildcats got. There wasn't a Badger within eight feet on a key shot from three by John Shurna with just over a minute left that would have put the Wildcats in the lead. Wisconsin should be able to hold a team that plays to their strengths like Northwestern to under 50 percent shooting.

Coaching: C-

Bo Ryan seemed to have the Wildcats figured out from the get go, and as a result the Badgers got plenty of open looks. Once the zone got going, however, the Badgers struggled. Dissecting a zone is tricky, but it can be done. Against a small team like Northwestern, the Badgers should have looked to get many more touches inside. Bo, a little stubbornly, decided to let the jump-shooting Badgers continue to look for jumpers. With an 11-point lead, the focus should be on looking for high-percentage shots. You can't get much higher than a layup.

Game MVP: Jason Bohannon. Once again, Bohannon shot 50 percent or better from the field and from 3-point range. Four Badgers scored in double-digits, and J-Bo led the bunch with 17 points. Bohannon is in a groove and looks like he will be the most consistent scorer in the tournament season. It would be nice to get him more looks in key situations instead of Taylor and Hughes dribbling the shot clock down and making a move or a shot.

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