Rather than the immediate #BEATEMDOWN from the beginning of the game, as has been the standard for Northwestern against Wisconsin of late, this game was competitive for about 25 minutes before Wisconsin unleashed the #BEATEMDOWN thanks to a barrage of three pointers and won going away.
Wisconsin's second half run coincided with Bill Carmody switching to the 1-3-1 defense, likely in an attempt to give the Badgers a new look. After all, NU's man to man hadn't been particularly effective. However, Wisconsin is about the last team to use the 1-3-1 against: they are always among the national leaders in not turning the ball over, they have a smart senior point guard in Jordan Taylor, and they surround Taylor with several dangerous three point shooters. So unsurprisingly, Wisconsin hit four threes in four possessions against the 1-3-1 to put the game out of reach.
But I would be remiss to put the blame for the loss on Bill Carmody. Wisconsin deserves much of the credit for an excellent shooting performance and for showing why their defense is ranked #2 nationally by KenPom.com. Bo Ryan's team doesn't have great length or athleticism, but they are extremely well coached and do an outstanding job of taking away the two highest efficiency shots in basketball: the lay-up and the three pointer. They forced Northwestern to beat them by taking contested mid-range shots, and NU was able to make some very tough shots in the first half but unable to carry it over to the second half. It also didn't help that NU had basically no bench thanks to the injuries to JerShon Cobb and Alex Marcotullio. Combine that with Davide Curletti regressing to the mean and you get a lopsided loss.
John Shurna and Drew Crawford were their usual solid selves, scoring 19 and 17 points respectively, but didn't get enough help. Dave Sobolewski looked like a freshman last night, making several great plays but also making several poor decisions, be it forced threes early in the shot clock or turnovers caused by trying to go one on three in transition. Sobolewski's future is very bright but there are going to be growing pains along the way.
Reggie Hearn chipped in with 11 points and did a decent job on Jordan Taylor in the first half, while Nick Fruendt provided energy off the bench and managed not to be a huge liability on either end, which is really all you can ask from Fruendt at this point. NU really needs to get either Cobb or Marcotullio back soon though, seven available scholarship players is a recipe for disaster in Big Ten play.