The Wisconsin basketball program put a bow on non-conference play on Friday, defeating Chicago State 80-53. With the victory, the Badgers are now 9-3 on the season and take a two-game winning streak into a break before conference play kicks off.
Here are some of my takeaways from non-conference play.
Wisconsin Basketball Records a Strong Non-Conference Resume
Tell any Badger fan going into the season that Wisconsin would be 9-3 heading into conference play, and you might get some strange looks. UW had some juggernauts on their non-conference schedule, including two top-five matchups. Still, Wisconsin put together an impressive resume.
UW made a championship run at the Fort Myers Tip-Off in November, defeating Virginia and SMU for the title. On top of that, the Badgers went 2-1 in a brutal stretch that included matchups against Marquette, Michigan State, and Arizona. Wisconsin earned a tough victory against the No. 3 Golden Eagles before picking up their third straight win at the Breslin Center against Michigan State. UW was boat-raced by Arizona, the then-No. 1 team in the nation, but that one was nothing to hang heads over, the Wildcats are a far better team.
The Badgers are on a solid trajectory after the first 12 games of the season. Players have only gotten more comfortable as the season has progressed, and if that continues into conference play, there is a lot to be excited about coming down the pipe.
AJ Storr Continues to Prove He Was the Wisconsin Basketball Program’s Missing Piece
There’s no official prize for the best transfer addition, but I’m in the camp that one should be created for AJ Storr.
The former St. John’s transfer added another layer to this team that has been missing for a long time by bringing in a high-flying guard with a unique three-level scoring ability and solid defense.
Storr has recorded 10+ points in seven straight games and currently leads the Badgers in points per game with an average of 15. The sophomore recorded a season-high 29 points against Chicago State, shooting 11-of-18 while adding on two rebounds, an assist, and a steal. Storr has been playing some of his best basketball as of late, shooting over 50% from the field in three of the last four games. Undoubtedly, his offensive output is the biggest reason for Wisconsin’s early success.
Storr is looking more polished with every passing game, showing improved shot selection, smarter decision-making, and better passing ability over the first 12 games. If Storr continues on this trajectory, the Big Ten should be on notice.
Is it Time to Worry About the Badgers Three-Point Shooting?
Going into this year, I expected this Badgers team to be average from beyond the arc. UW was returning nearly all of its production from last year, but the 2022-23 team wasn’t known for its three-point shooting, hitting 34% from deep. However, I didn’t expect that there would be a dip in three-point shot-making.
Through 12 games, the Badgers have hit 32.9% of their shots from deep, ranked at No. 202 in the nation, per NCAA.com.
Wisconsin hasn’t had to rely on three-point shooting due to how strong Steven Crowl and the frontcourt as a whole have been. The Badgers have made 52.3% of their two-point shots thus far, but their struggles from beyond the arc could be and have been costly against teams who have better shooters, such as Arizona.
Is it time to worry about where Wisconsin is at with three-point shooting? Maybe? They’ve gotten this far shooting at this clip, but the competition is only going to get tougher from here.
Heading into conference play, seeing some tangible growth from deep should be viewed as a priority.
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