Wednesday night the Wisconsin Badgers basketball team (20-10 overall, 13-6 B1G) was back in action against the Northwestern Wildcats (7-22 overall, 2-17 B1G) at the Kohl Center. The game represented the last home game of the season, and senior night for the team.
With the crowd a little misty eyed from senior festivities and the squad a little off their game, the Badgers were still able to win their seventh straight game, defeating Northwestern 63-48. Wisconsin is now, also, the No. 1 seed in the B1G Tournament and tied for the regular season conference championship with Maryland and Michigan State.
To begin the game, Aleem Ford and Brevin Pritzl would connect on three straight three-point buckets to jump out to an early 11-3 lead at the first media timeout. Wisconsin would continue to pile it on early, holding a 13 point advantage at the midway point of the first half.
After the Wisconsin lead eventually ballooned to 17, Northwestern would respond with a quick run thanks to 5-of-6 shooting in the latter stages of the first half. In the final moments of the half, the Badgers were unable to regain their footing and slept there way into a six point edge at the half, 34-28.
Well, that first half happened.— Bucky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) March 5, 2020
Wisconsin holds a 34-28 lead at the intermission.
The Badgers were 6-10 (60%) on their first ten shots, and went 8-23 (34.8%) the rest of the way.
To start the second half, the Badgers would come out making four of their first six shots before the first media timeout, helping them rebuild a 12-point edge over Northwestern.
The two teams would proceed to go to duel who could have a longer scoring drought over the next six minutes or so of game action, until Wisconsin got back into the scoring column with four straight points to hold a 48-33 advantage with just over nine minutes left.
Over the final seven minutes Northwestern would go on a mini run to chip away at the lead, but in the end, Wisconsin would hold off the Wildcats to win 63-48 in a fairly uneventful game.
Wisconsin takes down Northwestern 63-48.— Bucky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) March 5, 2020
UW is now in a three team tie for first place in the B1G.
On to Bloomington.
Notable stat lines:
- Brad Davison —> Nine points (3-of-7 from the floor), two assists, eight rebounds
- Nate Reuvers —> 11 points (4-of-9 from the floor), four rebounds, one steal
- Brevin Pritzl —> Nine points (3-of-9 from the floor), six rebounds, one block
- Pete Nance (Northwestern) —> 14 points (6-of-12 from the floor), seven rebounds
Three things that stood out:
No. 1: Mood swings
After a red hot shooting start, where the Badgers made 11 of their first 20 shots, including makes on their first four three-pointers, Wisconsin went ice cold towards the end of the first half. The Badgers went on to only make three of their last 10 shots from the field, and would only make one of their last nine three point shots in the remainder of the first half. Northwestern on the other hand could do absolutely nothing to begin the game, and did not get into double-digits until the 7:55 mark in the first half. The Wildcats would go on to cut into the scoring differential due to some improved scoring and lack thereof from Wisconsin to end the first 20 minutes of game time.
Coming out of the second half, Wisconsin would regain form, making consecutive three-pointers, their first triples since 10:09 in the first half to extend the lead back into double digits as Northwestern once again couldn’t do anything offensively.
But that wouldn’t last long, as the Badgers would go on to miss their next eleven shot attempts during a six minute scoring drought that finally ended with 9:44 left to play in the game.
Overall on the night, Wisconsin shot just 39% from the field, and outside of a few runs seemed out of sorts all night long.
Brevin Pritzl on what the team needs to work on heading into their next game at Indiana... pic.twitter.com/MUsxxqVahD— Matt Belz (@savedbythebelz) March 5, 2020
No. 2: Senior night fun
The game itself was a fairly lackluster performance across the board for the Badgers, as very little of note happened on the court Wednesday night against an under resourced Northwestern team.
In very cool fashion though, the lone scholarship senior — Brevin Pritzl — earned the start, and had a relatively strong performance in his last home game. The fifth-year wing would score nine points, and grab six rebounds.
Walk-on Michael Ballard was the only other active senior member of the Badgers to also be recognized, and he went on to play in the final minute, and score his first field goal of the year, to a standing ovation in place of Brevin Pritzl.
On a special occasion for both Pritzl and Ballard, the Badgers also celebrated Rashard Griffith, who will be completing his degree this May after being a key cog for the Badgers from 1993-1995.
Similarly, Greg Gard hit a milestone of his own, notching win No. 100 in his head coaching career.
For the game, six players would score at least eight points, as the Badgers were able to beat Northwestern, even on an off night.
Greg Gard on what a Big Ten title would mean... pic.twitter.com/u2kP2E75CC— Matt Belz (@savedbythebelz) March 5, 2020
No. 3: Bye bye bye
After taking down Northwestern, the Badgers are now guaranteed to finish with at least a top-four finish in the conference standings for the second consecutive year, and the 19 season in the last 20 years.
With a whole host of potential seeding options readily available, an upcoming win over Indiana would assure the team a share of the conference title for the first time since the 2014-2015 season in which the Badgers lost in the National Championship game against Duke.
Wisconsin has won seven straight games, and are playing well as March rattles on. The final domino looms next in Bloomington, Ind.
Northwestern on the other hand has still not won a Big Ten game against anyone outside of Nebraska...yikes.
Up next: Wisconsin will wrap up their regular season slate with a big game at Indiana on Saturday. Tip-off is set for 11 a.m. CST on ESPN.