MADISON, Wis. -- Fresh off what was certainly their biggest win of the season and perhaps their biggest road win of the last few decades, the Badgers aren't wasting any time with celebrations. With Minnesota coming to town Tuesday, Wisconsin had just one full day to prepare for the Gophers.
It's certainly not an ideal situation, but in the world of college basketball, playing multiple games in a few days is just another challenge for players, especially late in the season. Wisconsin center Jared Berggren sees a silver lining.
"This is how it's going to be in the tournament -- win a game and you only have one day to prepare in the NCAA tournament. It's definitely good preparation this time of year to get in that routine, and hopefully we can experience that a few times in the tournament here, having a quick turnaround and getting ready for the next one," Berggren said. "Hopefully we can keep our confidence high here and ... put a run together here in the coming month."
The other bit of good news for the Badgers is the fact that the Gophers are also playing on just a day's rest. Minnesota suffered a demoralizing 69-50 home loss to Indiana Sunday night, pushing them further away from the NCAA tournament bubble and prompting coach Tubby Smith to call out a couple of his top players.
Per the Minnesota Star Tribune:
"Ralph [Sampson III] was struggling to score; Rodney [Williams], he's not looking to score. So this is what you get," coach Tubby Smith said. "When you're not engaged, then your teammates are not going to be. You've got to earn their respect by playing hard all the time. And when you don't, the opponents are not going to respect you and your teammates are not going to respect you."
The loss was Minnesota's fifth in a row in a streak that started with an overtime defeat to the Badgers back on Feb. 9. It was an uneven performance for Wisconsin, which led by 13 with just over nine minutes left but failed to score in the game's final seven minutes.
Jordan Taylor led all scorers with 27 points in the win, his second-highest total of the season. Taylor insists even after Sunday's big win in Columbus, he and his teammates weren't overlooking the stumbling Gophers.
"Regardless of their losing streak, they took us to overtime, they took us to the brink last time we played them. I don't think anybody on our team forgets that," Taylor said.
One of reasons for the near-upset was the play of Williams, who finished the game with 16 points and a tidy 7-of-13 shooting line. He leads the Gophers in both scoring (11 points per game), rebounding (5.3 per game), blocks (1.4) and steals (1.4).
If the Badgers do prevail against Williams and the rest of the Gophers, they'll have an outside shot of earning the No. 3 or even No. 2 seed in the Big Ten Tournament as Michigan and Ohio State, the conference's current No. 2 and 3 seeds, each close the season with two road games.