Thursday, December 3, 2015

The last 5, and the next 5...

You may recall that I was pretty worried about the five-game stretch that just ended with the Badgers' thrilling overtime win at Syracuse. My conclusion was pretty pessimistic:
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.
Even in hindsight, I don't think that was unduly alarmist. The Badgers' two losses -- to Georgetown and Oklahoma -- were not all that closely contested. Both were double-digit losses that the Badgers had no chance to win in the second half.

The Badgers' two big wins -- over VCU and Syracuse -- on the other hand, were extremely tight, touch-and-go affairs that went down to the wire. It took a great drive by Bronson to beat VCU at the buzzer, and of course it took an extra period for the Badgers to beat Syracuse.

In other words, even knowing what I know now, if we played those five games again I would expect the Badgers to go 2-3, or maybe even 1-4. So: hooray!

Luckily, we don't have to play those five games again.** Instead, the Badgers now start a seven-game home-stand, and it starts with these five games:

As you can see, T-Rank has the Badgers significantly favored to win each of the five, with the Temple and Marquette games being the only serious stumbling blocks. If you add up the win percentages, it comes to a projected record of 4.1 - 0.9, so there's certainly a legitimate likelihood of dropping one. But this will be by far the softest five-game stretch the Badgers will have for the rest of the season, and I'm looking for them to make some hay and solidify their tournament resumé.

Prediction: 5-0

That will set up a potentially monster matchup against Purdue on December 29th in the Big Ten opener. Purdue has been absolutely dominant so far this year, and they have a real chance of coming into that game undefeated -- ranked in the top 5 or even No. 1. We'll see how things go, but I'm looking to that game as a coming out party for the Baby Badgers.

**Looking back at the Badgers' non-conference schedules since Bo's first year, I can't find a five-game stretch that is even remotely as difficult as the last 5, which included four games against likely tournament teams, all of them away from the Kohl Center. Going 2-2 in those four games was a tremendous achievement for such a young team.

1 comment: