The Wisconsin Badgers have taken on two ranked opponents so far, they are 0-2 and not very good in either occasion. With the Maui Invitational title on the line, the Badgers couldn’t muster up to No. 4 North Carolina (7-0) in a 71-56 loss.
It took seven minutes for the Wisconsin Badgers (4-2) to score, but the Tar Heels weren’t much better and only raced out to an 8-0 lead. D’Mitrick Trice’s triple opened up the scoring, but both teams would struggle to find the basket for most of the first half.
That was to Wisconsin’s advantage in terms of pace of play, but it was UNC who took advantage of the opportunities given to them.
UW shot just 30 percent, while UNC countered by shooting just 38 percent as they took a 29-20 lead in to the half.
Wisconsin committed six turnovers, but forced seven from the Tar Heels in the first half alone. The biggest difference was UNC taking those turnovers and scoring points. It was a 4-0 advantage to UNC in points off turnovers in the first half alone.
It was also a half to forget for the Badgers trio of Happ, Hayes and Koenig. That group combined to go 3 of 17 from the field, with Happ hitting two shots from the post and Hayes adding an emphatic dunk. Happ’s five points led all Badgers scorers in the first half alone.
The Tar Heels didn’t find a bucket in the final 3:09 of the half, yet an ill-timed foul by Hayes on a three-point shot gave UNC its largest lead of the half.
Nothing got better for the Badgers in the second half, as Wisconsin shot just 46.4 percent and allowed UNC to shoot 60.7 percent as the Tar Heels put up 42 of their 71 points.
Wisconsin tried to get back in the game, but could never get closer than the six-point margin it had after a three-pointer from Hayes with 17:13 to play.
It was all over from that point forward, with UNC leading by as many as 25 points and Wisconsin unable to stop the Tar Heels from doing just about anything they wanted.
- Jump shooting Nigel Hayes is the worst Nigel Hayes. Aggressive Nigel Hayes is the best Nigel Hayes. On Wednesday we saw too little of the best version of Hayes. In fact, it may have been the worst game of Hayes’ career. He was lost on offense (shooting just 1-7 from deep, making stupid plays without the ball and had two turnovers to go with two fouls. Let’s just say he needs to stop being a perimeter player and start figuring out how to be the best version of himself he can be. What he’s doing now clearly isn’t working.
- So much for Wisconsin being an elite team right now. The key words are “right now.” It is just November and what happens in this month matters, but only as part of an overall narrative. Get wins in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge and win the Big Ten and the two blowout losses to Creighton and North Carolina will be more of a footnote than the beginning of the narrative of the Badgers not being as good as advertised.
- Speaking of that, it is hard to imagine a worse start for a team who spent most of the offseason talking about competing for a national championship. Even in the wins over Central Arkansas and Chicago State this team simply felt like they were sleep-walking through the games. Outside of a dominating win against Georgetown, the Badgers haven’t put together a quality win all season. So, until they show they can be a consistent winner at the top level, can we stop talking about this team as a “national title contender?”
Wisconsin returns to the mainland and the comforts of the Kohl Center on Nov. 27th to take on Prairie View A&M at 1pm CT.