No one was talking about the Wisconsin Badgers as a potential Big Ten champion at the beginning of the season.
But after what the Badgers did on Tuesday night, marching into Indiana and winning at Assembly Hall, it might be time to give them serious consideration for a championship.
Wisconsin beat the Hoosiers because it can play defense as well as any team in the nation. Forget about an explosive offense or highlight-reel plays, the Badgers care about defense. They thrive on it.
And it’s why they are the last unbeaten team standing in conference play after a not-so-surprising win over the second-ranked Hoosiers on the road.
Wisconsin forced Indiana to play its slow-down, bruising style of basketball. The Hoosiers couldn’t break loose offensively the way they are accustomed to, shooting only 37.7 percent from the floor, and give all the credit to the Badgers for making it happen with a tremendous defensive effort.
People often forget about the importance of playing defense. They get too caught up in who can throw down the best dunks or launch up the most 3-pointers. But defense wins big games. If you bring it on the defensive end of the floor, success typically follows.
Look, at some point Wisconsin is going to lose a conference game. No way does it run the table in one of the best leagues in the country. But the Badgers do have a chance to win the conference title. If they can play defense the way they did against the Hoosiers on Tuesday night, it’s tough to bet against them.
Brian Lester is a college basketball writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @BLester1993.