MADISON, Wis. -- There was a buzz in the air after the Badgers' practice Wednesday and it's not difficult to guess why: March is here.
Basketball fans love the month of March for its rapid-fire slate of postseason tournament games. But it's just as exciting for players, who -- after months of practices, film sessions and workouts with a few games sprinkled in -- finally get a chance to just play.
"It's really kind of the best time of the year to play basketball," Josh Gasser said.
The Badgers will travel to Indianapolis tomorrow to play in the Big Ten Tournament, starting Friday with a game against the winner of tomorrow's first-round contest between Indiana and Penn State. Jared Berggren, a redshirt junior, has made the tournament trip a few times, but even he couldn't help but smile occasionally when discussing the action-packed weekend ahead.
"I remember going down there and you set up at the hotel and you get excited. You want to stay there all weekend," Berggren said.
To do that, Wisconsin will have to do something it failed to do in each of the last three seasons: advance to the Big Ten Championship Game. Since that 2008 championship, the Badgers haven't won a single game at the Big Ten Tournament, dropping three straight in the second round.
Last season, Wisconsin fell to Penn State 36-33 in the lowest scoring game in Big Ten Tournament history, which Gasser described as "one of the worst games [Wisconsin] played all year." The Badgers were 15-for-51 from the field (29.4%) from the field and 2-of-21 (9.5%) on 3-pointers in loss.
"It was sloppy. It was poor shooting. It was kind of a grinder. I don't know how much you can really take away from it. It was a pretty poor performance overall." Berggren said. "To lose on that first night, it's disappointing. You come back, you have family, friends, whatever make the trip and they're booking hotels for the whole weekend. You kind of let everyone down when you lose that first game."
Jordan Taylor, who was named first-team All-Big Ten for the second year in a row earlier this week, has been a part of all three of the one-and-done teams. Gasser said he's motivated by the fact that this weekend will be the last opportunity for Taylor and fellow senior Rob Wilson to make it to the championship game.
"I'm personally really playing for him and Rob," Gasser said "Just seeing how hard those two have worked, Jordan especially, it would just mean a lot for me to see him hold up the trophy because he deserves it. He's worked harder than anyone around and he's as good as anyone around."