josh gasserLast weekend a lot of criticism was thrown the Badgers way in the loss to Ohio State for not driving the ball and jacking up a ton of three point attempts and some of that criticism is rightfully placed, however if yesterday's game was an indicator perhaps Bo Ryan and his staff know what their doing after all.  

I'm not saying this because they were on fire from three point land in the first half and finished with a respectable total after going stone cold to end the game.  Quite the contrary actually, it's because of how Wisconsin shot the ball from inside the three point line that proves the point as to why the 2011-12 Badgers theme is "To Live and Die by the Three", well at least it's unofficial theme anyway.  

Take the first half as exhibit A:  Wisconsin shot 7 for 11 from three point range which is great by anyone's standard.  But overall the Badgers were just 11-25 from the field.  That means Wisconsin was just 4 of 14 from inside the arc.  That's just 35% shooting, not exactly good, let alone great inside.

 What about the 2nd half?  Knowing the Badgers were stone cold from three point land in the 2nd half you'd think they were much better inside right?  You'd be wrong.  I give you exhibit B: They managed to make only one more shot inside the 3 point line than in the 1st half, going just 5 of 14 (35.7%) on two point attempts while shooting just 2 of 11 from three point range.  I mean just count the number of layups and hook shots that Wisconsin missed last night and you see where I'm going with this.

If your inside game isn't any better than your outside game and in most cases worse, then why not make your three point game the focal point of your offense?

Sure, it's just one game, but let's take a look at the season as a whole then.  Wisconsin has made 35.7% of it's three point attempts this year and are shooting 47.2% from two point range, not exactly lighting it up inside the arc.  A team with a dominating or even above average post game should see themselves shooting at least 50% or better on their two point attempts and Wisconsin isn't doing that at all.  

As Badger fans we all know that Wisconsin doesn't just get it done on the offensive side of the court, defense has won them many a game dating back to the days of Dick Bennett and now through Bo Ryan's tenure at the helm of the program.  

It's one thing to have an offense that relies on the three to try and win but it's another to hold opponents down in that category.  It's something the Badgers have done an amazing job at this season for sure.  

For the year teams are making just 3.2 three pointers a game compared to Wisconsin's 7.5 makes a game.  That's nearly a 13 point a game difference that a team must try and make up.  Not exactly an easy task to do by hitting two point attempts.  It means a team must try and hit 7 more two point attempts than the Badgers and that's not even counting free throw attempts either.  

What the Badgers do by hitting so many three point attempts in a game along with their slower pace allows them to get back on transition defense better than anyone in the country, that also translates into teams not being able to attempt many three pointers because Wisconsin can and does extend it's defense beyond the three point line.

Additionally, there seems to be a growing myth amongst the Badger fans that Wisconsin hasn't been getting to the line much, and while in some cases (i.e. Ohio State) that may be true, it's not true on the whole.  The Badgers are getting just 3 less attempts per game between their losses and what they are averaging on the season, which is 16.2 attempts a game.  Sure in wins they are averaging 18.1 attempts, but take the percentage of makes and that only comes out to at best a 4 point difference, not exactly a huge disparity for the Badgers offense.

Also in the 6 losses Wisconsin has managed a few good totals of free throw attempts, hitting double digits in three of the losses.  In fact in the Marquette and Michigan State losses the Badgers had 21 and 27 attempts respectively, not exactly low numbers.  

Yes, it's also true they failed to reach double digits in three of the losses (UNC, OSU, and Michigan), but that just helps prove my point that free throws aren't the biggest factor for this team as the losses are split evenly between good and bad amounts of free throw attempts.

Wisconsin has attempted 61 more free throws than its opponents on the year and it has led Wisconsin averaging nearly 4 more points per game than it's opponents from the free throw line.  Adding that to the three point differential and teams must become even more efficient inside as they need to make up nearly 17 points a game.  

The combo of three's and free throws for Wisconsin is a deadly one for most teams to try and come back from and is the Badgers recipe for success.  Good teams don't go away from their recipe just because it's not working temporarily.  Additionally trying to be something you're not, in Wisconsin's case a post heave offense, is exactly what teams design their defenses to do to Wisconsin.  If their not attempting wide open threes and running down the clock and are instead pounding the ball down low all game long Wisconsin is in trouble.  

While it may be frustrating to watch at times, the 2011-12 Badgers are a perimeter shooting team and we need to realize that as fans and stop asking them to be something the aren't.  Success comes from knowing who you are and being good at it and at 19-6 this team is pretty darn good at what they know how to do best, living and dying by the three.