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Wisconsin vs. Duke: Grading the Badgers

The Badgers lost to the Blue Devils at the Kohl Center on Wednesday night, but it wasn't all bad...right?

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Look, we all knew the Badgers were not going undefeated this year. We knew that. Still, whenever there is a marquee, top-5 matchup in your home barn you want to emerge victoriously. Wisconsin lost to Duke by double digits, 80-70, on Wednesday night in the finale of the B1G/ACC Challenge, but besides the first notch in the "L" column what does it mean for the Badgers?

There were multiple big matchups that decided the outcome of this game, despite Tyus Jones' insistence, with made jumper after made runner, that he be the only "decider." The backcourt matchup of Jones and Quinn Cook versus Traevon Jackson and Josh Gasser was a matchup that did not receive much pregame hype, but delivered the two best performances of the evening. Jones was the best player on the court for 38 of the 40 minutes (I'm giving Jackson two minutes for his seven consecutive points in the second half that kept the Badgers within striking distance). If I were here to grade Duke, Jones would receive an A++++.

However, it is the Badgers I am tasked with grading, and grade them I shall! Traevon Jackson played an excellent game offensively for Wisconsin. He had a career-high 25 points on 7-of-12 shooting (3-of-5 from beyond the arc), two assists and two turnovers. After the game, Bo Ryan had some choice words on Jackson's performance.

It seems a bit harsh to criticize a player coming off of a career-high night in scoring, but Ryan has always expected certain things out of his point guards and scoring in bunches isn't one of them. When the Badgers are missing so many shots around the rim though, I would take the scoring from wherever I could get it. Gasser had seven points, three rebounds and three assists for Wisconsin. His defense was at time lackadaisical. Guards: B+ offense, C- defense

The forward play for Wisconsin was downright puzzling last night. Nigel Hayesa player some idiot claimed had "arrived," looked lost on offense for the entire game. He scored four points and grabbed two rebounds (after totaling no less than five in any game this year), while spending too much of the game on the bench in foul trouble. A positive for Hayes was his ability to keep Amile Jefferson off the offensive glass, which is an accomplishment in and of itself.

Jefferson plummeted (LOL) all the way to sixth after the game. If Hayes had one redeeming aspect to his game on Wednesday, swingman Sam Dekker had maybe 1/2. He threw down a rim-rattling dunk that was pretty sweet. Otherwise, Dekker was disappointing. He did not practice fully leading up the game, and it seems apparent that his ankle is still bothering him. Dekker sleepwalked through the Duke game, scoring five points and adding four boards in 24 minutes. Forwards: D overall, C+ rebounding

The main matchup that fans had been salivating over since the season tipped off was Jahlil Okafor vs. Frank Kaminsky. I would say both big men acquitted themselves nicely, with Kaminsky scoring more while Okafor was more efficient. Kaminksy dropped 17 points on 5-of-12 shooting (including two nice threes in the first half) and snagged nine boards. He also passed well out of double teams, distributing two assists on the night. He struggled guarding the nimble Okafor on occasion, but won just as many defensive battles as he lost.

Scouts came away impressed with both guys, and deservedly so. Center: B+ overall

The bench was a mixed bag of performances. Vitto Brown was brilliant in five minutes of play, scoring four points and blocking a shot. Duje Dukan dribbled, for what seemed like hours, until he turned the ball over twice in the first half, but made a big three and grabbed four rebounds. Bronson Koenig shot a miserable 1-of-7 but had two assists and zero turnovers. In the second half, the Wisconsin bench scored as many points as my mom (HI MOM!) did. Bench: I don't know, C+?

The Badgers did not play their best game last night, not by a long shot, and Duke took advantage. The Blue Devils shot 65% from the floor for the game (!!!!), which is the highest opponent field goal percentage in Kohl Center history. They also averaged 1.29 points per possession. The Badgers defense wasn't sharp and Duke made them pay. I'd grade Duke's performance as an A. They were excellent last night and seem poised for big things this season. Overall Wisconsin team grade: C+