The #18 Wisconsin Badgers were a force to be reckoned with in a 82-56 drubbing of the Michigan State Spartans on Super Bowl Sunday. With the win, the Badgers (17-5, 7-3) extended their home-winning streak to 16 while the Spartans (13-10, 5-6) have firmly placed their selves in the discussion for a possible NIT invite.
The Green Bay Packers were definitely on the mind of most fans at the Kohl Center as chants of “Go Pack Go,” and title-town jerseys were commonplace in the crammed arena. Instead of being overshadowed by the big day, the Badgers embraced the hoopla and played one of their best games this season.
By: Nick Grays
What It Means: Wisconsinites can only hope the Packers play as well as the Badgers did on Sunday. Bo Ryan has done a heck of a job with what is quite possibly one of the most underrated programs in the country. In his tenth season in Madison, Ryan has compiled a 114-46 (.713) record in conference play, the best in Big Ten history.
Despite a few hiccups on the road, the Badgers are beating all of the teams they should beat. And at home, the Badgers are untouchable. Not only do they beat teams, they are embarrassing them at the Kohl Center. In 13 home games this season, the Badgers have won by an average of 20.4 points per game.
If Wisconsin can end the season on a great run and put forth a strong showing in the Big Ten tournament, we could be talking a two or three seed for the Badgers in the NCAA tournament.
Would I really be wrong if I decided to go with either one of these two? That’s why I chose both of them because together they collectively scored 50 of the Badgers 82 points. In fact, they are the top scoring tandem during Big Ten play, averaging a combined 39.7 points per game.
In a column earlier this week, I wrote how Taylor is the Key to Wisconsin’s Offense. The theory was in full effect against the Spartans as Taylor had a career game with 30 points and six assists.
The beat continues for Leuer who is showing NBA scouts more and more with every contest as he displays his highly versatile game. He finished with 20 points for his 29th consecutive game in double-figures.
Highlight of the Night: It happened on multiple occasions and each time it was as beautiful as the one before. Keaton Nankivil was unstoppable while stroking three-pointers from the top of the circle. The best of his 3-of-3 shooting from behind the arc came at the 4:08 mark in the first half when he faded away and splashed a three to put the Badgers up 32-17. How do you stop a big man who can pop the three like that?
Stat of the Game: The Badgers shot .590 (23-of-39) from the field, including 11-of-17 (.647) from three-point land and 24-of-25 (.962) from the charity stripe. The Spartans made the Badgers look like an offensive juggernaut in this one.
Quotables: Both coaches made sure to address the big game between the Packers and Steelers.
“I have to root for the Packers because they beat the Eagles,” jokingly said Badgers Head Coach Bo Ryan.
“Hopefully the Badger Gods are with the Packers like they were with Wisconsin; they were awfully good today,” said MSU Head Coach Tom Izzo.
Badgers fans may love Taylor’s game, but they won’t like his reaction to a Super Bowl Prediction request.
“I’m staying away from that one because I got in trouble last time, Black and Yellow,” said Taylor.
What’s Next: On Wednesday, the Badgers take it on the road to face off with the improving Iowa Hawkeyes (10-13, 3-8). After a dismal start to the season, the Hawkeyes are on a roll with wins over Michigan State and Indiana.
The Badgers could be on upset alert if they are looking forward to their next opponent on Saturday, February 12th. The undefeated and #1 Ohio State Buckeyes (23-0, 10-0) visit the Kohl Center for one of their toughest games on the schedule. Freshman phenom Jared Sullinger and the boys will attempt to keep distance from the Badgers in the Big Ten standings.
What do you think of the Badgers season thus far? Do they have a chance at grabbing one of the top seeds in the NCAA tournament? Let me know by commenting below!
Rapid Reaction Archive:
Wisconsin 99 Prairie View A&M 55 (11-14-10)
Wisconsin 85 North Dakota 53 (11-16-10)
Wisconsin 87 NC State 48 (12-1-10)
Wisconsin 61 Milwaukee 40 (12-8-10)
Wisconsin 70 Green Bay 56 (12-13-10)
Wisconsin 80 Coppin State 55 (12-23-10)
Wisconsin 66 Michigan 50 (1-5-11)
Wisconsin 76 Illinois 66 (1-15-11)
Wisconsin 69 Indiana 60 (1-20-11)
Wisconsin 66 Purdue 59 (2-1-11)
Nick Grays is a senior editor at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers, Green Bay Packers, Indiana Pacers and Milwaukee Brewers. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best.Follow paulmbanks