Take a look at the Big Ten standings.
There is a four-team log jam for second place heading into Tuesday night and among those jumbled squads are the Wisconsin Badgers.
Over the weekend, at home to boot, the Badgers dropped a head-scratching contest to Purdue by a final score of 69-56. Wisconsin let Boilermaker guard D.J. Byrd score 22 points and got away from their biggest claim to fame in the loss. That of course being their defense.
When teams score on Wisconsin it’s tough for the Badgers to compete on the offensive end, which is why their ability to slow down the tempo of a game and keep the contest in the 40s or 50s has been so beneficial. It’s a system that allows head coach Bo Ryan to continuously keep his Badgers within the Big Ten and NCAA Tournament equation.
Well, not only did the Badgers lose at home and give up 69 points in the process, they missed an even bigger opportunity to make a move against their competition. Had Wisconsin won that game like they were expected to, they would be all alone in second place at 12-4 within the conference. Now at 11-5, they find themselves in a tough situation with three conference rivals who will all be jostling for position during this final week of the regular season.
In addition, the Badgers must now go on the road at both Michigan State and Penn State to end the year and while you would expect Wisconsin to handle the Nittany Loins in their regular season finale, the contest against the Spartans is certainly no cake walk. Michigan State is also one of those three other teams that the Badgers are currently tied with, so throw that fact into the mix, as well.
It’s never a situation in which we want to underestimate the Badgers, this they have shown in the past, but it’s going to take a world of an effort to knock off Michigan State in East Lansing this week, a contest that could very well drop Wisconsin in the standings.
Follow Paul Seaver on Twitter: @PaulSeaverRS