Three-Point Shot: Northwestern

Josh Gasser (USA Today Sports)

Before No.14 Wisconsin takes on Northwestern at the Kohl Center Wednesday night, Badger Nation looks at the three burning questions we're looking to have answered.

Although Wisconsin got some much needed relief on Saturday with a 14-point win at Purdue, a venue UW has only won at three times since 1972, there is still plenty of work that needs to be done. Like the three teams that beat Wisconsin, the Boilermakers were able to find success in the paint, although the Badgers were a little more aggressive defending their hoop.

If UW wants to get back into the conference title race and make a run for a Final Four, that kind of post defense needs to be a nightly occurrence.

In this Badger Nation feature, we will look at the three keys or questions for Wisconsin to have success against Northwestern.

Lay up: Can Nigel Hayes have a bounce back game offensively?

The first time Wisconsin played Northwestern, Hayes played a terrific, aggressive game, scoring a career-high 19 points on 8-for-12 shooting. With the way Hayes played against the Wildcats, he should come out in similar fashion.

It was a little surprising to see Hayes settle for mid-range jumpers against Purdue instead of posting up and trying to get to the free throw line. Hayes failed to get t the free throw line for the first time since Big Ten started. Hayes did get into foul trouble early against Purdue, which may have affected him from posting up, but for a freshman with solid post moves, he should know that's where he'll be able to help the Badgers' offense.

Mid-range jumper: Can Josh Gasser shut down Drew Crawford again?

Gasser was able to slow down the potent Crawford in the first meeting, but Crawford is averaging 18.6 points a game and shooting 41 percent from the floor over the last three games. The first time around, Gasser was able to play aggressive and made Crawford work for every single shot he took.

Gasser will have to force Crawford into the same mistakes as he did the first time, prevent him from driving into the paint and force him into taking jump shots. If Gasser can accomplish those tasks, the Badgers should be able to find success.

If Gasser is having success slowing down Crawford, Northwestern will try and use different ways in trying to get Crawford some open shots. One way will be trying to use screens to get him open and into favorable matchups.

3-pointer: Can Wisconsin continue to receive balance scoring and avoid scoring droughts?

It's been quite impressive that the Badgers starters have been able to find different ways to score and have done it efficiently. Within the first five minutes of the Purdue game, every starter for Wisconsin scored and all five starters finished in double figures.

In order for the Badgers to have similar results like they did against Northwestern the second time around, they will have to continue to receive that balance scoring. Wisconsin should be able to take the game over early and build a comfortable lead but can't suffer a scoring drought like they did against Purdue.

Wisconsin went on a six minute, 18 second scoring drought where they didn't make a field goal, which allowed Purdue to come back in the game. As a result, Wisconsin only went into halftime up three where they could have been up more.

Part of the reason for that were Frank Kaminsky and Hayes getting into foul trouble, allowing Evan Anderson some playing time. Although Anderson did some good things defensively, he is still clearly not an offense weapon. When Kaminsky is on the floor, it makes the opposing defense play a little tougher defense, especially since Kaminsky can play inside and out and shoot 46 percent from three.

Kaminsky is going to have to try and keep himself out of foul trouble to help the offense flow and keep it in a rhythm that it has been since Big Ten play started.

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