Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The next five games...

So the Badgers have recovered from the fluke loss to Western on opening night. They dominated Siena, raising hopes that maybe the opener was a true aberration. Then they muddled through North Dakota, not quite eviscerating them like they usually do such terrible teams, but still building up a 25 point lead before the scrubs came in.

Now we enter a crucial stretch:

Georgetown (neutral)
VCU or Duke (neutral)
at Oklahoma
at Syracuse

That's four games very losable games against tournament-quality competition, all away from home.

Georgetown is 0-2, having suffered perhaps the only loss worse than the Badgers' loss to Western, an opening day home shocker to Bradford ... er, Radford. Then they blew a late lead at Maryland tonight. So they seem like they're probably okay, good enough to beat the Badgers on a neutral court for sure. Are they really going to start 0-3?

VCU is 2-0, having beat up PVA&M and Radford, but we don't know much about them. They're Shaka-less, but they've got that Shaka-protege. Typically, a pressing team is the best possible matchup for the Badgers. And since we've got Brondad at the point, that's probably still true. But with jittery freshmen and Vitto Brown littering the lineup, I'm not so so sure this year.

Duke lost to Kentucky tonight. Can't make too much of those early losses on neutral courts, but they are young and figure to be relatively beatable early in the year. Still, are they going to lose two games so early?

So: 0-2 in NYC seems very possible, probably 33% chance. (Going with my gut here, not consulting T-Rank or box scores (for the moment)). Maybe a 10% chance of two wins, and you do the math for the split.

After the cupcake, it's at Oklahoma and at Syracuse. Oklahoma has a good-looking squad led by a bright shining star in Buddy Hield. They played their first game tonight, and beat Memphis on the road. Hard to imagine the Badgers winning that game. If they do, it would be probably the most shocking non-con win since Bo stole one in Austin in 2007.

At Syracuse won't be much easier, obviously. Syracuse has beaten Lehigh and St. Bonaventure -- middling teams -- at home, by middling margins. So they're still a bit of a mystery. But winning at the Carrier Dome seems an unlikely proposition.

Long story short, 2-3 over the next five games would probably be the best we can reasonably hope for, with 1-4 sitting out there as a disturbingly plausible scenario.

Buckle up.