PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 25:  Ethan Happ #22 of the Wisconsin Badgers walks off the court after being defeated by the Notre Dame Fighting Irish with a score of 56 to 61 during the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament East Regional at Wells Fargo Center on March 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Badgers turn over Sweet 16 game to Notre Dame

What if?

Following a dreadful 19.3 final seconds and an awful offensive performance, the Wisconsin Badgers are going to be asking themselves plenty of that question this offseason.

Demetrius Jackson scored six of Notre Dame’s eight points in a 8-0 run over the final 19.3 seconds to secure a 61-56 victory over the Badgers. He finished the night with 16 points, but it was fellow guard V.J. Beachem who put the Irish in position to take it at the end.

Beachem finished with a game-best 19 points on 7-11 shooting and 3-5 shooting from deep in the win.

Wisconsin countered with a double double from Ethan Happ, who had 14 points and 12 rebounds. However, he fouled out with under a minute to play and the Badgers missed him dearly down the stretch.

With the Badgers and Irish tied at 53-53 with less than a minute to play, Vitto Brown appeared to put the Badgers in the drivers seat, knocking down a three pointer with just 27 seconds to play.

Instead, it woke up the Irish and the team who’s largest lead was just two points all game long downed the Badgers by five. Most of the loss can be attributed to turnovers, as the Badgers had 17 of them to Notre Dame’s 12, because everything else was as close as possible.

Field goal shooting? It was UW 40.4 percent to ND’s 40 percent.

Three-point shooting? ND 30.8 percent to UW’s 30 percent.

The loss sure wasn’t for a lack of defensive effort from the Badgers, especially in the first half.

Wisconsin built an early 10-5 lead thanks to a hot start from Bronson Koenig and some hustle from the likes of Zak Showalter. His rebounding effort on a missed Vitto Brown triple and Nigel Hayes’ first bucket of the game gave Wisconsin the 10-5 lead with 15:29 to play in the first half.

However, Notre Dame wasn’t going to go away quickly, instead it upped the pace in transition and came within a bucket on back-to-back transition layups. That’s when Showalter came up big again, hitting a rare three-pointer and pushing the lead to 13-9.

Following that moment, the Badgers defense woke up and it made all the difference in the first half.

UW forced seven turnovers, grabbed 15 defensive rebounds and its physical effort led to Notre Dame shooting just 24.1 percent from the field in the first half. Notre Dame missed 14 of 15 shots at one point in the first half, but a 6-0 run late in the half made it a game.

That and Wisconsin’s maddening inability to take advantage of its defensive effort and Notre Dame’s shooting woes. Wisconsin led by as many as nine points in the half, but its own struggles offensively eventually caught up to them too.

The Badgers managed to shoot just 36 percent from the field and 20 percent (2-10) from three-point range itself. UW also had an uncharacteristic seven turnovers in the first half alone.

Instead of turning a great defensive effort in to a huge lead, the Badgers went in to the half up just four points at 23-19.

Koenig and Notre Dame’s Matt Farrell tied for the lead with seven points in the first half.

After the half, both teams woke up on the offensive end of the floor, at least by first half standards. However, the Badgers could never find a full way to take advantage of all the opportunities given them in either half and it came back to bite them.

Wisconsin finished the season on a sour note to say the least, but every part of this team is set to return next season and there will the additions of Brevin Prtizl and Andy Van Vleet to the rotation as a redshirt freshman and sophomore respectively.

That’s a scary group to have to face coming off this bitter disappointment and a full offseason of work ahead of this young team.

Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadger and associate editor of Bloguin's World Cup site, 32flags.com as well as Publisher of Big Ten site talking10.com

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