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3/28 Big Ten NIT Recap: Wisconsin Falls Short

NCAA Basketball: NIT Semifinals-North Texas vs Wisconsin Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

For a good majority of the 2022-23 season the biggest issue with Wisconsin was finding any sort of offensive consistency. The Badgers have always put an emphasis on defense while running a snail paced offense, but that offense used to still be relatively efficient. This season that offense was nowhere near to be found and the Badgers inability to score was the main reason they fell short of the NCAA Tournament.

With all of the offensive issues at hand, naturally the Badgers entered the NIT and hit the ground running. In the opening two rounds the Badgers averaged 78 points per game and then found just enough offense down the stretch at Oregon to advance to the NIT Semifinals. Their opponent last night was a North Texas team that ran an even slower offense and had a strong defense, with the only difference being a more efficient offense and lesser level of opposition.

So naturally the Badgers came out feeling it against North Texas, scoring 38 points in the first 14:29 of the game. The remaining 25:31? 16 points.

After quickly reaching 38 points Wisconsin made one field goal the last five and a half minutes of the first half. That cold streak continued into a second half that saw the Badgers score just 13 points. With 9:08 to go the Badgers made a three pointer to take a 54-46 lead. They didn’t score the rest of the game.

Not to be outdone the Mean Green didn’t set the world on fire offensively either, but at least they continued to make some shots. Usually when a team is held to 10 points over the last 11:11 they’re not going to win, especially if they fall behind eight points in that stretch. But North Texas did just that, taking their first lead of the game with 2:08 and then promptly not scoring the rest of the way. The two teams combined for a total of 4 points over the last 5:30 of game time.

For a Wisconsin team that came short of their goals due to their offensive ineptitude, losing in a manner like this is only a fitting endcap to their season. What made last night’s loss so much more difficult to stomach was the fact that for 15 minutes the Badgers offense not only looked good, but they were straight up taking it to one of the best defenses in the country. And then out of nowhere the offense straight up shut down.

Even with all of their issues scoring the ball the Badgers still had a chance at the end of game before Tyler Wahl missed two free throws, had a late layup blocked and then Moulaye Sissoko finished the deal stealing the ball from Wahl in the closing seconds.

Wisconsin now enters the offseason hoping for a much different result next year and a potential bounce back after missing the NCAA Tournament for only the second time since the Dick Bennett era. North Texas will move on to the NIT Finals tomorrow against UAB.