Big Ten Geeks: Is Wisconsin the Big Ten's best team?

Wisconsin continued to roll, with a win over Marquette on Saturday. For whatever reason, the Golden Eagles have been an annual root canal for the Badgers. Entering the game on Saturday, Bo Ryan was 6-6 against Marquette, despite the fact that Wisconsin has clearly been the better team on balance over those seasons.

And although Marquette pulled to within 3 with about two minutes to play, this was a game that Wisconsin controlled throughout. The outside shots weren’t falling (27 percent on 3s), which would normally be a problem for a team so reliant on 3s as Wisconsin is. But the Badgers controlled the paint and hit 19-of-23 free throws to post an offensive efficiency of 1.15 points per possession. Sam Dekker led the way with 21 points (11 shots), 10 rebounds, and just one turnover. The offense was welcome on a day when the defense wasn’t working, as Marquette posted its second-highest offensive efficiency on the season (1.05 points per possession).

That’s actually the curious thing about the Badgers. It seems either the offense or the defense shows up—but not both. The pessimist might think this is evidence of inconsistency, but I tend to think it’s cause for optimism. Frankly, despite the 10-0 start against the toughest non-conference schedule in the Big Ten, I’m not sure we’ve seen the best that Wisconsin has to offer. Despite our earlier reservations, Wisconsin’s defense appears to be just fine. A part of that might be the fact that Wisconsin’s rotation is already pretty well-defined, despite the fact that it’s still early in the season.

Frankly, I’m not sure there’s a better team in the Big Ten. And if you’re looking for an excuse to predict the Badgers will take the conference crown, consider that the Badgers play Ohio State and Michigan State each just once this season.

Aside from the Badgers, most of the rest of the conference was busy beating up on cupcakes. The lone exception was Nebraska, which was the cupcake to a vastly superior Creighton team. Other notes from around the conference include Illinois finding its outside shot in a blowout win over Auburn, and Purdue reminding us that one impressive victory over a Boston College does not a turnaround make, as the Boilers were challenged a bit too much by a bad Eastern Michigan team. Matt Painter continued to fiddle with the starting lineup, this time starting four freshman. Clearly, Painter is not sold on his team’s turnaround, either.

This week is more of the same, as none of the teams will be challenged until Iowa visits Ames to take on Iowa State on Friday. That kicks off a pretty interesting weekend, with plentiful quality matchups. Until then, we’ll tide you over by taking a look at some of the trends early in the season.

And before we leave you, we give you Sam Dekker’s dunk:

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Show Comments (13 Comments)
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Matt Barker on 12/9/2013 @ 11:45am EDT Said:

Wait a second, Ohio State defeated Marquette 52-35 in Milwaukee three weeks ago and led by as many as 20 in the second half. Wisconsin beats the Golden Eagles 70-64 in Madison and they’re the best team in the B1G? Don’t think so.

muscleman on 12/9/2013 @ 2:19pm EDT Said:

Rest assured, Wisconsin will take care of business against both Ohio State and Michigan State this year!

Luke Anderson on 12/9/2013 @ 2:24pm EDT Said:

And since Marquette is the only opponent that either team has played, we can base all our conclusions on that.

Connor DeVries on 12/9/2013 @ 4:10pm EDT Said:

Ohio State has played No One! Marquette might be the closest thing to a decent team that they have played, while Wisconsin has played now 7 teams that are likely to be dancing in March. St. Johns, Florida, Green Bay, St. Louis, West Virginia, Virginia, and Marquette.

Gary on 12/9/2013 @ 4:11pm EDT Said:

We can base our conclusions on more than just that. Wisconsin has played a tougher schedule than O$U has, and is undefeated just like O$U.

andrew_m2012@yahoo.com on 12/10/2013 @ 1:13pm EDT Said:

I mean MSU lost one game to an underrated North carolina, but also beat the Number 1 kentucky. but you know that means nothing

andrew_m2012@yahoo.com on 12/10/2013 @ 1:14pm EDT Said:

It’s ok though everyone felt the same way after MSU lost to notre dame in football but look where they are now.

akble on 12/11/2013 @ 11:47am EDT Said:

just keep ignoring the Hawkeyes -

    Luke Anderson on 12/11/2013 @ 2:43pm EDT Said:

    Just keep playing no one.

jeffreypilz on 12/11/2013 @ 4:18pm EDT Said:

Matt, Matt, Matt…who has OState played besides Marquette??

UncleG on 12/11/2013 @ 9:13pm EDT Said:

I think OSU MSU and UW are pretty even; Iowa not far behind

Gary H Mayer on 12/12/2013 @ 10:29am EDT Said:

I’m not concerned about polls this early; but, why was OSU/Bryant State on BTN Wednesday and Wisconsin v. UW-Milwaukee not – even in Wisconsin? OSU annihilated Bryant State but UW-Milwaukee was 8-2 v. Wisconsin 10-0. That game was also a slaughter, but deserved to be televised, especially in Wisconsin. The replay will be on BTN tonight – throw a dog a bone!

Gary H Mayer on 12/12/2013 @ 12:52pm EDT Said:

Why is it taking so long to ‘moderate’ my comment? It is not rude or even controversial. WI (Madison) v. UW-(Milwaukee) should have been televised, especially in Wisconsin; if not on BTN, certainly on ESPN or ESPN2.

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