Coming off their worst shooting performance of the season, the Wisconsin Badgers (4-3) will face another tough test as they take on the No. 14 Syracuse Orange (6-0) at the Carrier Dome Wednesday night.
After getting blown out by No. 6 Oklahoma Sunday, the Badgers are seeking to redeem themselves, but it won’t be handed to them in an easy fashion.
The Orange come into Wednesday's game as one of the hottest teams in the nation, having won six straight games, including impressive wins against No. 18 Connecticut and No. 25 Texas A&M. Despite receiving NCAA sanctions and starting the season unranked in the AP Poll, Syracuse has quieted critics and has looked like a possible Final Four contender.
Led by their 2-3 zone defense that has limited opponents to just 63.5 points per game and has held teams 28.6 percent shooting from beyond the arc, Syracuse presents a stout defense that will be difficult to penetrate.
Guard Bronson Koenig will look to exploit this defense, as he leads Wisconsin in points per game and 3-pointers, but the junior will have to learn quickly from his ugly performance against Oklahoma for the Badgers to have a legitimate chance of pulling off the upset.
In Sunday’s contest, Koening shot just 3-of-18 from the field and only contributed nine points after averaging 16.1 points per game this season. With a team that has little offensive firepower, Wisconsin will need him to be at his best level or else scoring above 60 points will become a true challenge for the Badgers.
Though Wisconsin as a whole struggled mightily from the field against Oklahoma, their defense was arguably even more of an issue, as they were outscored in the paint 34-10 and could not shut down the Sooners from beyond the arc, as they permitted several uncontested 3-pointers.
Unfortunately for the Badgers, the Orange are a prolific 3-point range team, as they have shot 41.1 percent so far this season and have two starting forwards that average double figures per contest, which will create problems for Wisconsin’s diminutive front court.
Syracuse will undoubtedly be the toughest opponent the Badgers have seen this season, but if they can pull off a win, it will certainly restore faith in Madison.
Realistically speaking, however, without adjustments to their perimeter and interior defense as well as their shooting form, the Badgers could leave the Carrier Dome with yet another loss and a sour taste in their mouths.