ESPN Wisconsin

Slow league start hasn't derailed UW

Feb 12, 2012 -- 4:09pm

With MSU help, UW controls destiny

By TOM LEA
tlea@espnwisconsin.com

Isn’t it crazy to think about where Wisconsin was in the standings after its first four games of the Big Ten schedule?

Sitting at 1-3 in league play, with a three-game losing streak to boot, a lot of talk surrounding Wisconsin’s season stemmed more around whether it would win enough games to qualify for the NCAA tournament, not a potential conference championship.

I guess that’s what a 7-1 stretch does for a team, particularly in the heart of league play.

Couple that improved play for the Badgers with Michigan State’s easy, if not somewhat surprising 10-point win at Ohio State Saturday afternoon, and UW’s rematch with the Spartans suddenly has much more fuel added to the proverbial fire.

When the Badgers play at Michigan State Thursday night it has an opportunity to move up in the Big Ten standings once again. Currently at 8-4 in league play, UW trails Michigan State and Ohio State by one game each in the league conference title race.

The good news for UW is that it gets to play each of those teams, so wins over each of them would put the Badgers in good position to win it’s first league title in half a decade.

The bad news for UW is that it gets to play each of those teams, both squads UW has already lost to this season, on the road.

But judging by UW’s 1-3 start to open league play, I don’t think you’ll see many people close to the situation — Badger players and coaches — complain too much about it. And with the way the Badgers have been playing on the road (UW’s won four straight away from the Kohl Center) who knows what can happen.

We’ll know much more once Thursday night rolls around.

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