The University of Wisconsin women’s basketball team could be looking at an 0-9 start in the Big Ten as they travel to Evanston, Illinois for a showdown with Northwestern University Wednesday.
Despite pre-season promises of a slight turnaround in play this year, the team’s winless start in conference play is the worst mark in program history.
The Badgers (5-16, 0-8 Big Ten) are desperate for a win in every sense of the word. While the team has surpassed the worst overall record in school history by a mere four wins, they haven’t tallied one in the win column since Dec. 12, a one point win over UW-Green Bay, and have yet to lose by less than nine in the Big Ten.
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Even more unfortunate for head coach Jonathan Tsipis and the Badgers is the matchup they have awaiting in Evanston. Wisconsin ranks dead last in assist/turnover ratio in the Big Ten at .6, a full .7 behind Northwestern at 1.3 and third in the conference. While the UW offense is the biggest reason for their slump, their defense will have all it can handle on Wednesday as it faces the league leader in steals and assists per game, Ashley Deary.
As for the Wildcats (16-5, 5-3), they need a victory over the Badgers to stay in contention to win the Big Ten. NU currently sits at fourth in-conference behind three schools that it has lost to in Ohio State University, University of Michigan and University of Maryland. Given the loss of the tiebreaker, Deary and Northwestern can’t afford losses to teams like Wisconsin and will look to handle its business against the visiting rival.
Outside of the conference, the game Wednesday has national implications for Northwestern as it strives to make a name for itself come NCAA tournament time. The Big Ten has struggled this season with only three teams currently ranked in the AP top 25, and the Wildcats will need to stay relevant in the selection committee’s mind to get off the bubble and into the tournament.
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The matchup Wednesday will boil down to the mindset of each of the two teams. If Northwestern remains focused on the task at hand and doesn’t look down the road at postseason goals, Wisconsin could be in for another long day. Neither squads blow up the stat sheet on either side of the ball and Wisconsin will need to play a full and balanced game if they want to escape Illinois with the upset.
The game is set to tip off at 7 p.m. CT and will air on BTN Plus.