The bench needs to step up
Another factor working in Wisconsin's favor this year has been improved depth, which was a problem throughout 2022-23. It certainly helps that they've been able to stay healthy throughout most of the year, but so too has the emergence of bench contributors like John Blackwell and Nolan Winter.
Both Blackwell and Winter should see their fair share of minutes, and it will be interesting to see whether veterans like Connor Essegian and Carter Gilmore also see an uptick in action, too. Essegian in particular has seen his minutes cut in a surprising way so far in 2023-24 after playing 27 minutes per game and averaging 11.7 PPG during his freshman season. He hasn't been completely healthy, but getting a big day from him off the bench would go a long way in helping Wisconsin spring an upset.
The depth will be important for a variety of reasons. For one, coming off a hard-fought loss just days earlier, Wisconsin was likely going to need to go deeper in their bench anyways. But more importantly, Purdue is a deep team that also puts opponents in foul trouble at an impressive rate. It's one of the reasons Matt Painter-coached teams are always so tough to beat, whether in Mackey Arena or away from home.
It's been an impressive turnaround campaign in Madison, but there's still plenty of work to be done for the Badgers over the next month-and-a-half as they look towards the NCAA Tournament. Purdue at home is the perfect opportunity to strengthen their resume with a major victory and the right gameplan should help them finish the job. Fresh off a loss, it may be just the motivation they need to do just that.