Hoopcap: Badgers Bring The D to Illinois
Wisconsin Badgers faced an Illinois Fighting Illini team on Tuesday night that they’ve owned in the past few years. A once great rivalry is not that anymore. And to make matters worst for Illinois, they’ve watched natives Frank Kaminsky and Ethan Happ head north to have great careers, and like in Minnesota, Badgers have built a pipeline in the flat land. Wisconsin handled their business with a dominating defensive performance only allowing 43 point and never really giving the home team a shot.
The first half hotness
One of the big talking points of Badgers season thus far has been the lack of explosive starts. It usually takes Wisconsin a bit to get going and many consider them a second half team. Greg Gard made it a point to start out quick as Wisconsin came out firing with a torrid start scoring 16 of the first 18 points in the first five minutes of a game. For a team like Illinois looking for the upset, that kills your spirit and takes the winds directly out of their sails.
No need to panic about Bronson Koenig but this road trip didn’t treat him kind. He finished with only nine points going four of thirteen from the field with one made three. No Badger fan needs to write the ‘What’s wrong with Bronson’ piece, but it’s worth keeping an eye on. He needs to do more towards the basket and threes will come. Don’t be surprised if he has a huge game versus Indiana.
Malcolm Hill did nothing
Hard to really have a good game when your team scores 43 points, but Malcolm Hill, Illinois star player, did zero productive things on the court. Nigel Hayes continues his strong push as a defender and a probable Spurs player keeping Hill at bay for the game. He went 4-for-14 with six missed threes. Hayes deserves a lot of credit for his defense. I feel like he gets a proper amount in-game, but folks don’t talk about it enough.
Gard’s savvy Moesch decision
This might be thinking way too much into it, but I liked Gard’s choice to give Aaron Moesch some run at the end of the first half. He didn’t score but the big man pulled down four rebounds. Gard knew he could do this with how Illinois’ offense wasn’t productive. Moesch getting valued Big Ten minutes are huge if they need him down the stretch due to injury. The only way to learn is on the court.
Players of the Game: Nigel Hayes (Wisconsin), Maverick Morgan (Illinois)
Wisconsin welcomes Indiana to Kohl Center for a pregame to Super Bowl on Sunday. Badgers took care of business versus Hoosiers earlier this season in Bloomington, and this is a different Indiana team now as they’ve been struggling majorly. Hoosiers will have tired legs after a three overtime game on Wednesday night. Badgers should continue to roll.