Wisconsin and Michigan are both battling for their NCAA Tournament lives. That makes their matchup on Sunday afternoon in Ann Arbor, Mich., a pivotal game.
The Badgers (16-11, 8-9 Big Ten) will look to string together consecutive victories for the first time since cobbling together a six-game winning streak in December and early January.
The Wolverines (16-12, 10-7) will seek their third straight win and sixth over the last eight games in their home finale.
Wisconsin is coming off a 64-52 victory over Iowa on Wednesday. The Hawkeyes were limited to 32.3 percent shooting from the field and made just 3 of 28 attempts from 3-point range.
The Badgers had three double-digit scorers, led by Connor Essegian’s 17 points.
“You just keep stacking good days and keep trying to get better,” Badgers coach Greg Gard said. “I think that’s the one thing that sometimes this time of year gets lost is you can still get better. That may be more consistent, that may be stack better minutes together. We’ve got a younger group that still has to learn a lot and they’re learning a lot. This has been a lot of baptism by fire for these guys.”
Michigan defeated in-state rival Michigan State 84-72 on Feb. 18 and collected a 58-45 road win over Rutgers on Thursday.
The Scarlet Knights’ point total was a season low for a Wolverines opponent.
“We want to keep grinding one game at a time,” coach Juwan Howard said. “(Thursday), there was toughness displayed. There was toughness displayed versus Michigan State. The key is consistency. I know and I trust that our guys are going to continue to keep competing.”
The Wolverines trailed by 10 points in the early going but held a three-point advantage by halftime. They outscored Rutgers 32-22 in the second half.
“We’re a gritty team. We’re fighting for our season,” guard Dug McDaniel said. “We knew we were going to do whatever it takes to get back into the game. They went on their little run, but we didn’t let that deter us from making our own run.”
Michigan’s last loss came at Wisconsin on Feb. 14. Essegian scored a season-high 23 points in the Badgers’ 64-59 win.
–Field Level Media