Game Day Grades: Minnesota

MADISON - Wisconsin wasn't as crisp offensively as they've been in the last couple games, but its defense led the way to a conference-opening victory, holding No.14 Minnesota under 40 percent shooting. Badger Nation hands out the grades.

Offense: B

Wisconsin protected the ball, hit its free throws and made a respectable percentage of its three point attempts en route to a 68-60 victory of the rival Gophers. Jordan Taylor played a solid, if not spectacular game at the point guard position, easily handling the perimeter pressure from the Minnesota point guards.

Senior forward Tim Jarmusz continued his hot shooting, hitting 3 big three pointers and appears significantly more confident in his outside shot. Jarmusz came into college as an accomplished three-point threat and early on at Wisconsin, it looked as if he would develop into a consistent perimeter marksman. However, last year and at the start of this year, Jarmusz lost confidence in his shot and consequently saw his form and rotation falter. With him hitting shots, that's another weapon for UW opponents to account for.

Additionally, Keaton Nankivil was extremely efficient on the offensive end, scoring 11 points in 16 minutes. Nankivil apparently still has a permanent place in Bo Ryan's dog house, the senior forward comes out of the game after nearly every mistake, no matter how significant. However, when Nankivil is in the game and gets into a rhythm, he can be extremely effective on offense and knock down shots from the perimeter.

Defense: A-

Wisconsin played great team defense and held the Gophers to 39 percent from the field and 25 percent from the three-point line. Although the Gophers got a number of offensive rebounds and limited their turnovers, Wisconsin swarmed Minnesota in the paint and limited sharp shooting senior guard Blake Hoffarber's touches (finishing with only 10 points on 5-for-10 shooting). Additionally, the Badger big men did a great job of fronting the post and preventing Trevor Mbakwe from getting the ball in the paint, as he finished with only three made field goals.

Wisconsin defended the perimeter very well and it appears that Josh Gasser has improved his ability to chase players around the perimeter. Furthermore, Jarmusz and Rob Wilson helped chase Hoffarber and wore him out by the end of the game.

Lastly, Taylor's strength and ability to keep opposing point guards out of the lane will remain extremely important as Big Ten play heats up.

Overall: B+

The Badgers displayed impressive poise down the stretch and finished the game without any late mistakes. This has been an issue for the Badgers earlier in the year and it appears Ryan has stressed improved late game management.

The win also gives the Badgers a shot of confidence to start conference play and a key win over the rival Gophers. Wisconsin did not face many early tests after playing a relatively weak non-conference schedule and beating a "ranked" team like Minnesota puts an exclamation point on the 2010 calendar year.

Lastly, we got a better idea of what the rotation will be as Ryan played a 9-man rotation and relied heavily on upperclassmen to close out the game. Finally, the rotation might be tweaked given the opponent as Ryan has displayed a consistent tendency to match-up with the opposition. This was on display as Ryan utilized the big men on his bench in order to match-up with the Gophers' height.

Game MVP: Taylor. Controlled the tempo, didn't turn the ball over, hit big shots, and played solid defense.

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