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Monday, April 12, 2021
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Wisconsin hopes for first win against ranked opponent since December against Purdue

The No. 25 Wisconsin Badgers (10-8 Big Ten, 16-9 overall) have been in somewhat of a tail spin over the last month, posting just a 3-5 record over the last 28 days, including losses to all four ranked teams they played.

The Badgers, who were dominant with a 19-6 record in February and March over the last three seasons, just haven’t been able to find that magic this year. 

Nowhere was that more apparent than their last loss to No. 9 Illinois, where the Badgers trailed by 10-15 for almost the entire game before D’Mitrik Trice scored 19 points in 2:12 of game time to get Wisconsin within a point, before eventually losing. 

“We didn’t start the way we wanted to, we want to jump on teams and it didn’t happen,” Trice said after the Illinois game. “We were sped up and taking bad shots, and not converting inside either.”

Wisconsin shot just under 35 percent against the Illini, but that number would have been lower if Trice didn’t go supernova at the end of the game. 

“We shoot the best when we work inside out, especially at the beginning of the game,” Potter said after the Illinois game. “That’s not going to cut it against top level teams — honestly though if we can bring [our shooting percentage] up to even 36 percent, we'll probably win that game.”

Wisconsin now faces a matchup against No. 23 Purdue, who is coming off three straight wins over Michigan State, Northwestern and Nebraska, but who hasn’t won a game against a ranked opponent since late January against Minnesota.

Purdue is led by forward Trevion Williams with 15.8 points and nine rebounds a game on 52.5 percent shooting from the field. Williams is a bonafide post threat, attempting just three shots from distance this year and missing all of them.

However Wisconsin has had problems defending the post this year against premiere big men in the Big Ten. Illinois’ Kofi Cockburn put up 19 points against Wisconsin last week on 7-13 shooting and Iowa’s Luka Garza scored 30 on 11-19 shooting last week.

It’ll be key for Wisconsin’s big men, Potter and Nate Reuvers, to shut down Williams Tuesday to prevent Purdue from getting an early lead like Illinois was able to do. 

The biggest key is going to be for the Badgers to finally start hitting shots again after a month of poor performances.

“As much as it sucks to lose [the Illinois game] the effort we gave at the end gave me a lot of hope [going forward],” Micah Potter said. “We got really hot in our last eight games of last year, and we still have eight games left. We have to be able to make shots, and I was bad today, but that effort is something we can be proud of.”

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