Badgers head into tourney losing last nine to ranked opponents — but N.C. isn’t ranked
The University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team is limping into the NCAA tournament but there is a way to spin that into a positive.
The Badgers (17-12) have lost six of their past eight games — and nine of the past 14 — as they prepare for North Carolina at 6:10 p.m. Friday.
Of their past seven losses, all have been Top 25 teams, and four of those games were against Top 5 opponents — though two were against No. 5 Iowa.
So, one might say the Badgers are battle tested, though they’ve lost all those battles. Every one.
Wisconsin is 3-9 against Top 25 teams. They won their first three of the season to Top 25 teams, then lost nine straight.
Those Top 25 wins came in three consecutive December games — No. 23 Louisville (85-48), No. 12 Michigan St. (85-76) and No. 21 Minnesota (71-59).
None of those teams, however, were ranked at the end of the season — though Louisville may have been had it not had six of its last 12 games cancelled due to COVID-19.
Two things to point out along with Wisconsin’s struggles against ranked opponents. First, North Carolina (18-10) isn’t ranked.
Second, the Tar Heels are 2-4 against Top 25 teams — 2-1 in their last three. Of all those games, however, only Iowa was in the Top 10 — a 93-80 loss for N.C. back on Dec. 8.
This will be the first NCAA tournament for La Crosse native Jonathan Davis.
The 6-foot-5 freshman is a fairly inconsistent scorer but always seems to contribute in other ways.
Only three times this season has Davis not had a block or a steal in a game.
He’s averaging 7.0 points on 42.5 percent shooting from the field and 38.2 percent from deep (13-for-34). Davis is also at 4.1 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 1.1 assists, .6 blocks and 1.0 turnovers in 24.3 minutes per game.
He’s scored in double-figures eight times this season with a career-high 17 points, going 4 of 4 from deep — also a career high — against Penn State on Feb. 2.
TOP PHOTO: TOP PHOTO: FILE – Wisconsin guard Jonathan Davis (1) passes the ball around Michigan guard Franz Wagner (21) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021, in Ann Arbor, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)