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Examining the Badgers during finals week

Wisconsin Basketball will take a break as Finals are this week.

Wisconsin Basketball just crushed Savannah State Thursday night and now has a nice break before playing Grambling State on Saturday, December 22 and then going to Western Kentucky the following weekend. After that, it’s all Big Ten play for the Badgers. How have they faired so far?

Wisconsin has one of the stronger resumes in the country currently. Although a tough loss to Marquette on the road will sting, it’s not a terrible loss as Marquette is now ranked and likely a tournament team. The only other loss on the schedule came at the hands of Virginia in the Battle 4 Atlantis championship game who is still one of the best teams in the country.

The wins the Badgers have are what makes a resume attractive in March. They have true road wins over Xavier and Iowa and neutral site wins over Oklahoma and Stanford. All four of those teams could potentially make the tournament.

The methods the Badgers use to win games are all over the place. Sometimes it’s with strong shooting performances (against Oklahoma), and sometimes it’s with clutch plays down the stretch without Ethan Happ on the floor (at Iowa). The bottom line is Wisconsin is a good basketball team.

We saw what they can do at full strength thanks to Savannah State’s poor defense. We already know Happ is great. Brad Davison and D’Mitrik Trice showed off their guns shooting a combined 10-16 on threes. Key role players like Kobe King and Nate Reuvers also pitched in a handful of buckets and put their game on display. Those are the kinds of players great college basketball teams get contributions from.

The real surprise from Thursday, and the piece that can take Wisconsin over the top, is Tai Strickland. I wrote about him after Trevor Anderson got hurt and how he will have an elevated role on the team. He certainly made the most of those added minutes against Savannah State and surely earned himself more playing time against Grambling State.

The Badgers have weaknesses that haven’t cost them much this year. Shooting slumps are a little too common and that hurt Wisconsin against Marquette, but it’s worth mentioning that Wisconsin had a chance to win that game in the final minute despite the bad shooting. And that’s what this team has shown more than anything this year. No matter what happens, Wisconsin will give itself a chance to win the basketball game at hand.

Next: Wisconsin’s all-time starting five

Poor shooting, foul trouble, bad turnover luck, it doesn’t matter. The Badgers play a style of ball that always has them in it at the 39-minute mark. And that’s the key for this team moving forward. Continue to be scrappy and confident and good things will come for the Badgers as Big Ten play plays out in the new year.

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