The University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team will drop out of the top ten in the rankings after an uncharacteristic performance in a loss to Creighton University Tuesday.
But Wisconsin will get a chance to right the ship at home against Chicago State University before hitting the road for the Maui Invitational Tournament next week.
With Maui less than a week away, the headline Thursday will be whether head coach Greg Gard can get his team back on track and again looking like the Big Ten favorite that they were projected to be.
The defeat Tuesday at Creighton was disheartening for several reasons for UW. The Badgers missed 12 straight threes to wind down the first half and turned their eight-point lead into as much as a 12 point deficit in the second.
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Their 16 total turnovers were as bizarrely uncharacteristic of any Wisconsin coached team in a while and prevented the Badgers from responding to the hostile environment in Omaha, Nebraska.
Despite the level of play as a whole, the Badgers competed against Creighton for much of the game and senior point guard Bronson Koenig recorded a team-high 21 points on 46 percent shooting from the floor. Koenig has looked like a completely different player coming out of the offseason, and he will have to demand more respect and leadership if the team is going to respond against Chicago State.
As for CSU, the cougars are coming off their season-opening 97-89 win over Illinois Tech University at home Saturday. Despite sitting at the top of the Western Athletic Conference after a single game, the Cougars finished dead last in conference a year ago and finished the season on a 19-game losing streak.
Chicago State’s high-flying offense will face a tough test against a Wisconsin defense that hopes to re-assert its dominance after giving up 79 two days ago — a mark opposing teams reached only three times all of last season against the Badgers.
Chicago State will have to mimic the play of Creighton this week, stay quick in transition and be smart with the basketball on offense if they want to knock off the highly-touted Badgers.
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The Cougars are coming to Madison at a good time if they’re trying to play spoiler, as Wisconsin is still searching for its identity as a matchup with the University of Tennessee awaits in Hawaii Monday.
The game against Chicago State tips at the Kohl Center at 7 p.m. Thursday and will stream live on ESPN3.