Wisconsin tries to keep tournament hopes alive vs. Michigan

wisconsin-tries-to-keep-tournament-hopes-alive-vs.-michigan

Wisconsin will be looking to keep its slim NCAA Tournament hopes alive when the slumping Badgers host Michigan on Tuesday in Madison, Wis.

Wisconsin (14-10, 6-8 Big Ten) blew a 17-point second-half lead and suffered a brutal 73-63 overtime loss at Nebraska on Saturday.

The Badgers, ranked as high as No. 14 in early January, have lost eight of their last 11, seriously damaging their post-season hopes. Wisconsin has participated in 22 of the last 23 NCAA Tournaments.

Michigan (14-11, 8-6) saw its three-game winning streak end with a 62-61 loss to No. 14 Indiana on Saturday, as it failed to score over the final 5:18. The Wolverines also need a late-season run to have a realistic shot at the Big Dance.

“We’re 8-6 and we have a tough opponent coming up on the road,” Michigan coach Juwan Howard said. “And that’s a game that we have to of course prepare and get ready for, but we’re looking forward to the matchup. Still, it doesn’t change anything, one game at a time.”

Wisconsin won the last meeting against the Wolverines 77-63 in Madison last February, but a post-game argument escalated into an altercation that resulted in Howard receiving a five-game suspension.

Against Nebraska, the Badgers’ normally stingy defense collapsed late as the Cornhuskers hit 7 of 13 shots from beyond the arc in the second half. Wisconsin shot just 33 percent in the second half, including 1-of-8 in overtime.

“A lot of this is due to our undoing and our mistakes and our changing who were in that three-quarters of the second half on, specifically on the defensive end,” said Wisconsin coach Greg Gard. “Some offensive things, too, but it started with what we allowed them to do defensively.”

“We got what we deserved,” Gard said. “I was real brutally honest with them.”

Wisconsin’s slide started with three straight defeats without senior forward Tyler Wahl, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, out with an ankle injury.

Neither the Badgers nor Wahl have gotten back into sync. Wahl has just 41 points and 22 rebounds over his last five games.

Chucky Hepburn averages 13.2 points per game and Steven Crowl averages 11.8 points and a team-high 7.0 rebounds. Wahl averages 11.7 points and 5.7 boards and freshman Connor Essegian adds 11.4 points, with a team-best 56 3-pointers.

Michigan averages 73.6 points per game and allows an average of 69.3. The Wolverines are 2-8 when held under 70 points.

The Wolverines are led by Hunter Dickinson who averages 17.9 points, fourth in the Big Ten. He also averages 8.4 boards per game and has a team-high 42 blocks. Jett Howard averages 14.8 points and Kobe Bufkin averages 12.3.

–Field Level Media

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