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December 18, 2013

When does the streak end?





We've got about 10 days until the Wisconsin basketball team takes the court again against Prairie View A&M on Dec. 28, so in the meantime the rest of the BadgerBlitz.com staff and I will post a few roundtable discussions we've had about Bo Ryan's team.

The Badgers are 12-0 on the season and are ranked as high as No. 4 in the latest AP poll, exceeding almost everyone's expectations along the way. At the same time, I doubt anyone would predict that the Badgers finish the season undefeated -- the Big Ten is too deep and too talented for that to happen.

Picking Wisconsin's first loss of the season isn't exactly easy, though. The Badgers are fortunate in that their conference slate doesn't look overwhelming: they'll play No. 3 Ohio State and No. 5 Michigan State just once each this season, and both games are at the Kohl Center. Road games against Indiana, Iowa and Michigan won't be easy, but with how well the Badgers have been playing another extended winning streak after winter break isn't out of the question.

So with that said, let's see what the BadgerBlitz.com staff had to say: When will the Badgers drop their first game of the season?

Jon McNamara: As much as my gut says Wisconsin goes down on the road to Northwestern on Jan. 2, my brain says the Badgers get by the 5-5 Wildcats. But just how long can this winning streak last? Though I like Iowa this year I don't see Wisconsin losing at home to the Hawkeyes, or Illinois a few days later. I think things end on the road -- not against Indiana on Jan. 14, but to Minnesota at Williams Arena.

Zack Miller: At Minnesota on Jan. 22 is my bet for when the Badgers will drop their first game. Fresh off of an emotional victory at home against Michigan and owners of an 18-0 record, it would be hard for Wisconsin not to look forward to a matchup with Ohio State the following weekend. Add to that the fact that it will be the first game of the spring semester that Gopher students will attend and the Williams Arena will be electric. Traveling to Minneapolis has proven to be a difficult task for the Badgers in recent memory, as the Gophers have taken three of the last four meetings, with the lone loss coming in overtime. Being 17-1 heading into match-ups against Purdue and Northwestern is not something to be ashamed of, but losing to rival Minnesota certainly is.

Jon Gorman: I'll go one game earlier than you guys. I think the Badgers will drop a home game to Michigan on the 18th. Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III are probably the only front court that has comparable offensive talent to the Badgers', and if Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker get in early foul trouble, it would be a long night at the Kohl Center. I think the lack of front court depth is Wisconsin's biggest weakness this year and a game like that would push them to the limit. I've also been impressed by Nik Stauskas, who is very possibly Michigan's best player at the moment.

John Veldhuis: I don't take any pleasure from raining on the parade here, but my gut says the Badgers will stumble against Iowa on Jan. 5 at home in the Kohl Center. The Hawkeyes have played the Badgers tough on the road over the last two seasons, they lost in double overtime to the Badgers last year and they thumped the Badgers at the Kohl Center two years ago. Iowa's roster is deeper than Wisconsin's (bolstered by former Badger Jarrod Uthoff), and if they get Kaminsky or Nigel Hayes into foul trouble I think it could spell trouble for the Badgers, even at the Kohl Center. We've seen in the past that you can beat the Badgers if you can out-physical them -- Iowa's roster gives them a chance to do that. You also have to factor in winter break -- Wisconsin's student section will be sitting at home for the most part, which certainly didn't help back in 2011 when the Hawkeyes beat the Badgers on the road on New Year's Eve.

For more Wisconsin Badgers news, notes and discussion, follow John on Twitter.



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