Discussion

The Badgers' defensive secret

Wisconsin is second in 3-point percentage D, but that's not the stat that matters

Updated: February 9, 2012, 12:23 PM ET
By Ken Pomeroy | Special to ESPN Insider

It's no secret that a big factor in the Wisconsin Badgers' success this season has been their defense. The Badgers' offense has averaged a pedestrian 1.02 points per possession in Big Ten play -- ninth-best in the conference -- but Wisconsin has the third-best efficiency margin thanks to a defense that has limited Big Ten foes to 0.95 points per trip.

Wisconsin's offense is not potent enough to pull away from quality competition, but its defense has been good enough to keep the team in almost every game this season. Just four times has a Badgers opponent topped a point per possession, and no team has done better than the 1.08 PPP that Michigan scored on the Badgers on Jan. 8. Say what you want about Wisconsin's style, but its defense has been very effective even when you take into account that the Badgers play at the nation's slowest tempo.

A sizable component of their defensive success has come on the perimeter. Wisconsin has held opponents to 26.2 percent accuracy from beyond the arc, which is second-best nationally, and there is no doubt that has contributed to the overall statistical success of the defense. But the Badgers' defense is built for continued success not because of its 3-point percentage defense, but because the Badgers limit their opponents' 3-point attempts. This is because Wisconsin, or any other college basketball team, has surprisingly little control over their opponents' accuracy from long distance.

MORE MEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL HEADLINES