After losing their two-game cushion atop the Big Ten standings in two games, the stakes for Sunday's matchup against Maryland have increased a bit. Now Wisconsin needs a win today just to climb back into a tie for first place in the conference with Purdue. With Bronson Koenig's playing time and productivity in question due to a calf injury, Wisconsin needs its other senior leader to step up today. The Badgers need a "Nigel Hayes Game" today at the Kohl Center.
So far this year, Nigel Hayes has had a solid Senior campaign. A little inconsistent at times but he's a college basketball player, inconsistency here and there is kind of expected. He's averaging about 13 and 6 on the season, which again is solid considering Wisconsin's offense doesn't lend itself to high scoring outputs like other college programs. Between himself, Koenig, and Ethan Happ the Badgers have themselves a solid trio to make a run in the postseason tournaments with.
But I think most Badgers fans would tell you despite the solid season so far from Nigel, there's a little hint of disappointment in the air regarding Nigel's season so far. Maybe not and it's just me, but I was hoping for a little more "spectacular" than "solid" for Hayes coming into his Senior year. You see flashes of that "spectacular" from Hayes but never on a consistent basis. And a lot of that is probably just being spoiled by Nigel for 3 years. He contributed to two Final Four teams his Freshmen and Sophomore years and became a fan favorite for the Badgers with his goofy personality. After shouldering most of the load his Junior year once Dekker, Frank, Brust, and the rest of the gang graduated I was really expecting Hayes to take a little more of a leap in his Senior season. I'm not sure if that's happened yet.
Not that him not making that leap is necessarily a terrible thing though. Either consciously or unconsciously I think Nigel has taken a step to the side to allow Ethan Happ to emerge as a leader for this Badgers team. Happ is and will continue to be a stud for the Badgers in the future but I don't think his emergence happens if Nigel Hayes would force himself to be the focal point of the offense. Nigel being "solid" allows for Happ to be "spectacular" at times, which he has been. That's a big thing to ask from a Senior with 4 years of experience and two Final Fours under his belt. But Hayes has done that, to his credit.
But I think today is a day that Nigel has to be a little selfish. We need a "Nigel Hayes Game" today at the Kohl Center. With his other Senior star straddled with an injury, it's time for Nigel to pick up some of that slack for his teammate. A loss for the Badgers at home would be their third straight and drop them to 3rd place in the conference, with losses to both teams ahead of them in their only meetings. A Senior, at home, in a big game, with conference title hopes on the line. That's the stage for a big performance. The Badgers need "spectacular" Nigel Hayes today.....and I think they get him. I think after calling out his teammate a little bit before their previous game, I think Nigel Hayes internally calls himself out today. I think Nigel gets 24 and 8, and leads the Badgers to a win and back into a first place tie in the Big Ten.
Not going to break down the events here, you either watched it already or can easily check the results. Went 1 for 3 in my predictions. Had John Wall in the Skills Contest but he lost in the first round.....although I did have Porzingis finishing 2nd and he ended up winning, so not too bad. Had Kemba Walker winning the 3-Point Contest but he struggled in the Finals. And I did correctly pick Glen Robinson III winning the Slam Dunk Contest and continuing on the strong legacy of Pacers winning the Dunk Contest.
The real highlight of the night though was the Craig Sager tribute. That was really well done. Having the celebrities and players come out and shoot in his honor was fun. And then having Steph Curry attempt half court shots was a great idea......and I don't even like Steph Curry. I was so afraid when Steph was walking out to the court that this moment was going to be so good that I wasn't going to dislike him anymore after it. How awesome would that have been if he drained one of those first three shots?
After he missed like 15 in a row and they made him quit though, the pettiness in me came back quick. I wanted nothing more than LeBron to walk out to center court after Curry missed all those shots and attempt his own half court shots. If LeBron would have came out and drained a half court shot in honor of Sager after Curry couldn't do it would have been the sporting moment of the year. It would have made the Durant-Westbrook drama look like a JV rivalry.
After a disappointing Sixer last week, Welsch really bounced back this week with a strong set of questions. I said a couple weeks ago that I thought it was their best Sixer yet on the FlyOver Sports podcast; I think this week's episode could be the 2nd best.
1. If you could participate in any in-game activities what would it be?
- We have season tickets to Iowa State basketball games and one of their in-game contests is the Van Wall 3-Point Shootout. You have to make 5 three pointers in 35 seconds to win a John Deere riding lawn mower. I'm convinced they are rigging this with light basketballs. Most of the shooters have terrible shots but it looks like it floats out of their hands funny. So I'd like to participate in this to see if the balls are rigged. And if not, I'm making 5 three's in 35 seconds so it's an easy win.
2. What is an UNPOPULAR SPORTS OPINION you have?
- I think the catch rule in the NFL is a good rule. Everyone complains about "completing the process" and not being able to know what's a catch anymore. BS. Catch the damn ball. I think you should have to have firm control of the ball in order for it to be a catch. I don't get everyone's big deal with this. If you bobble the ball it's not a catch.
3. Would you rather get rid of conference tournament in college basketball and just play 3 more games?
- Not a chance. Everyone loves a tournament. I literally run a Facebook contest every year where the winner is just who can post "Sup?" first on the status. An elimination tournament is literally one of the greatest things in life. And we want to get rid of that at the end of the season just so we can see Illinois and Maryland play each other one more time? Oh my. Heaven forbid Northwestern and Nebraska only get to play each other once a year instead a home-and-home. Let's get rid of one of the most exciting events in sports for that. Get out of here, we're keeping the conference tournaments.
4. Tony Romo will be playing for _____________ in 2017.
- I'm going to say the Jets. I tried looking through possible landing spots for Romo a couple weeks ago trying to find value NFL future odds and it's tougher than you think to find Romo a new team. If he wants to go to a title contender, it really limits his options. But bringing in Romo seems like a Jets move. The publicity grab and I think they think they may just be a QB away. Not sure Romo really wants to go there but it could be his best option. I'd like to see him in Kansas City or Cincinnati but I don't think they get rid of their existing QBs.
5. What is one food item or beverage item you must have when you attend a sporting event?
- I got the shout-out here in this question so obviously I'm going with the Popcorn and Skittles combo if we are at a high school game. If we are going to an Iowa State game then it's gotta be a Clone Cone. And if it's a regular college or professional event I'm going nachos or pretzels, whatever I can get some nacho cheese on. I only Power Rank the popcorn though, not the nachos.
6. Who would be your dream guest to have on the show?
- This one's easy: Jake Mohling. I thought he was going to be a regular on this podcast and he hasn't even made an appearance yet. I can't wait for the 30 for 30 that comes out on this someday. There has to be some back-story to Mohling getting shunned that hasn't came out in the media yet. I mean he's basically like Isaiah Thomas on the original Dream Team. He should definitely be on the roster but the rest of the guys are just refusing to let him on the team.