Drew Neitzel knows how to get open, Kammron Taylor does not. I guess I don't understand how the Badgers could have gone into the game at Michigan State Tuesday night without a plan for accounting for the sharp-shooting senior guard as he came off the Spartans' (often moving) screens. Meanwhile, MSU's plan to shut down Taylor seemed to work flawlessly as the Badgers' senior point guard registered only a pair from the free throw line all night. Alando Tucker's good, but he can't carry an entire team in a hostile gym against a well-coached team like Michigan State.
Joining Taylor in the missing in action category were Brian Butch (3 points on 1 of 3 shooting) and Jason Chappell (0 points, 0-1, 0 rebounds). The number one ranking this week is meaningless anyway, but the Badgers might drop out of the top five altogether if they don't play significantly better at Ohio State on Sunday and at home in the rematch against MSU on Saturday, March 3.
The Izzone once again shames the Grateful Red. Michigan State's student section knows how to not only get up for big games, but is intent on playing its role as the home team's sixth man. The noise in the Breslin Center Tuesday night was easily translated on both the TV and radio broadcasts, as Brent Musberger and Matt Lepay both shouted throughout the game, likely just so they could hear themselves.
The Wisconsin students have largely congratulated themselves this year for their ability to mug for the national TV cameras, repeat cheers originally invented during the Steve Yoder era and play dress-up. Some of the costumes are funny, but the rest of this act has grown stale. What's made the Kohl Center a nightmare for visiting teams is the way the Badgers are playing, not the volume or intensity of the fans. There's one more home game this year and Tuesday night's result means it will probably be nationally televised. Let's see what the Grateful Red can pull together to both honor the seniors and get in the heads of Michigan State.
The Badger women need a win on Sunday more than the men. If the Badger men lose on Sunday, it will endanger their shot at a number one seed for the NCAA tournament. But if the women lose at Iowa (13-14, 5-9 Big Ten), they'll likely be left out of the women's NCAA tourney altogether.
A win will give the Badgers a Big Ten record of 8-8 with a 19-10 record overall. Illinois, which is a half-game ahead of Wisconsin in the league standings, would have to beat both Michigan State (3rd in the Big Ten) and Purdue (2nd) to keep pace. If the Badgers win on Sunday and the Illini lose both their remaining games, the Badgers will be all by themselves in fourth place and a decent run in the conference tourney will give them a good case for inclusion in the NCAA's field of 64. An NCAA appearance would be the first for the team under coach Lisa Stone. The Badgers last made the tournament in 2001-02.