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Three Things: Wisconsin Basketball vs. Illinois

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Wisconsin looks to keep up its undefeated record in the Big Ten as they head to Illinois this afternoon. These two teams were Co Big Ten champions last season but are on different paths this year. Wisconsin, who was picked to finish 9th, is currently first at 3-0, compared to Illinois, who is 0-3 and coming off a loss to Northwestern. Wisconsin basketball couldn’t overcome the absence of Wahl and hot shooting from Illinois. Here are three things from the loss.

Replacing Tyler Wahl

The Badgers were faced with a tall task this afternoon as it was announced before tip-off they would be without their leading scorer Tyler Wahl. As noted in my last article, Wisconsin is already thin regarding frontcourt depth. Without Wahl for the foreseeable future, many guys must step up in his absence. Carter Gilmore and Markus Ilver are the two Badgers that look to fill this absence.

Carter Gilmore was fantastic in his first career start, and Gilmore is easily the most improved player for Wisconsin so far this season. Although there are no moral victories, having Gilmore gain confidence moving forward will be significant even when Wahl is back. A positive in the frontcourt play is how good Steven Crowl has been. His sixth straight game scoring double figures; he has been fantastic as of late. He finished today with 20 points and 12 rebounds.

Three Point Shooting

Wisconsin basketball has been one of the better Big Ten teams regarding three-point percentage and guarding the three-point line. Today, that line became the difference in the game. The Badgers couldn’t buy one from behind the arch, and it seemed like Illinois couldn’t miss. Wisconsin finished 8/29 from three, while Illinois finished 10/19. It’s hard to overcome such a big difference, especially on the road.

Poor Defense

Missing Tyler Wahl is a significant part of why Wisconsin basketball couldn’t get it done today. However, a lot of blame must be on the Badger’s defense. Especially in the second half, Illinois was getting any look they wanted and was taking advantage. Many defensive breakdowns came from the Badger’s inability to guard the pick and pop, and Illinois guards were getting penetration and kicking out to wide-open shooters. Hawkins got most of his looks from this action and made the most of it, knocking down six threes. Wisconsin also allowed Shannon Jr. to get into a rhythm early on that carried throughout the game.

Free Throws

A bonus topic for today. This certainly isn’t the reason Wisconsin lost this game. However, it should be noted that this has been a struggle for the Badgers all season. We saw it late against Minnesota last game, and today, Wisconsin was just 5/12 from the line. It would help if you capitalized on these opportunities for a team that sometimes struggles to score.

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