Much has been written about the Badgers' shooting woes. But in fact their field goal shooting percentages (34.9% from three and 48.6% from two) are in line with historical averages. For example, their averages last year were 36.8% and 46.5% from three and two, respectively, and 37.4% and 48.9% the year before. So the threes are down a little, but not dramatically. What is going on?
Unsurprisingly, the answer is free throw shooting. Wisconsin shoots an abysmal 60.8% from the line, and in conference play it is even worse: 51.9%. To make matters worse, the Badgers have a hard time even getting to the line. This year their free throw rate (FGA / FTA) is just 28.2%, which is the worst in the Bo Ryan era. (Compare that rate to the rate in Alando Tucker's heyday with the Badgers: 44.9%.) Some of us remember when a hallmark of Bo's teams was to make more free throws than the other team attempts. Those days are over, and they have been for a while.
Indeed, when you combine the Badgers' terrible free throw shooting with their inability to get to the line, you get a very troubling statistic: the Badgers get just 14.6% of their points from the charity stripe. That's the third-lowest in the country, ahead of only winless Grambling (one of the worst D-1 teams ever) and Mount St. Mary's. And it's a stat that has been going steadily for the Badgers since they peaked at 23.1% in 2006-07.
Of course, it is possible to play good offense without getting to the line much. Michigan does it, for example. But getting to the line and making free throws was part of the Bo Ryan offensive formula, and it's an ingredient that has just gone missing.