Just over two minutes in to Sunday's matchup with Ohio State, the Badgers and Buckeyes were all tied up at six after an Aaron Craft jumper from the top of the key. At that point, it looked like the game was bound to be an offensive shoot-out; a style that certainly did not favor the Badgers. Eight minutes and a 18-0 run for Wisconsin later, the Badgers had themselves a 24-6 lead over the #13 team in the nation.
Everything seemed to go right for now-ranked #19 Wisconsin on Sunday. The offense was running effectively. Ball movement led to good three point looks that were falling. Cuts to the basket created some easy buckets. Jared Berggren was creating and finishing in the post. Ben Brust was hitting every shot in sight. Heck, even Ryan Evans' mid-range jump shot was falling. So were his TOMAHAWK TIPSLAMS!
It wasn't just on one side of the floor, though. The Badgers played gritty and determined defense throughout the game, forcing the Buckeyes in to a number of bad shots and wasted possession. Wisconsin's defensive efforts held one of the Big Ten's most dynamic offenses to 37.5% shooting and a season low 49 points.
Wisconsin's display of offensive execution and defensive effort take second and third on my list of the most impressive aspects of this Badger team's performance on Sunday. The top spot is owned by what I call the three E's; energy, effort, electricity.
While every Bo Ryan team we've seen is known for diving on the floor, making hustle plays and battling for every loose ball, there's one aspect of this Badger team that's different- and I can't quite put my finger on what it is. One thing I know for sure is that it's fueled by the verve of players like Traevon Jackson, Mike Bruesewitz and Sam Dekker- who all seem to have a mental edge over their opponents. Whatever it may be, it's going to be the reason the Badgers are successful from here on out.
When the buzzer sounded, the Badgers had routed the Buckeyes 71-49 and improved to 18-8 on the season, including 9-4 in Big Ten play.
An efficient and balanced offensive play paired with an unrelenting defensive effort and a unique unleashing of energy all added up to the Badgers playing a very dangerous type of basketball; Wisconsin Basketball. Bo Ryan Basketball.
Will the Badgers continue this type of play through the final five games of Big Ten play? Has Wisconsin hit it's stride at the perfect time? Who knows.
But one thing's for sure, just two games behind MSU and Indiana for first place in the conference, Wisconsin has a legitimate chance to win this season's Big Ten Championship.
If Wisconsin keeps this momentum and play style rolling, look out basketball fans. The Badgers could be back.