The No. 6 seed Wisconsin Badgers (16-11 overall, 10-10 Big Ten) open up their Big Ten Tournament with a second round matchup against the No. 11 seed Penn State Nittany Lions (11-13 overall, 7-12 Big Ten) in Indianapolis, Ind. The Nittany Lions mounted a massive comeback against the No. 14 seed Nebraska Cornhuskers and won 72-66 on Wednesday night in a poorly played yet exciting opening night of the best conference’s tournament.
Penn State was down 15 near the end of the first half against Nebraska but used a large free throw and rebounding disparity to battle back in the second half and earn another game. Floor general Jamari Wheeler led the team with 19 points and added six rebounds and three assists while big man John Harrar had five points, 14 rebounds and four assists.
Nittany Lions wing Myles Dread has struggled over the past three games, shooting only 3-of-15 from deep (1-of-7 against Nebraska on Wednesday) and totaling 11 points. Dread is one of the main guys PSU counts on to spread the floor so it will be imperative for the Badgers to keep him shooting poorly.
Wisconsin and Penn State played a home and home earlier in the year with each team winning on their home floor. In the first game, the Badgers gave up 81 points (the most they gave up all season) and turned the ball over a dozen times. In the return matchup at the Kohl Center, the Nittany Lions only scored 56 points but still forced the Badgers to turn the ball over 15 times (11 times in the first half).
The Badgers will have to be careful with the ball against Penn State as the Nittany Lions guard-heavy lineup has caused problems for the Badgers ball security. UW will also have to keep PSU off the offensive glass as the Lions rebounded over 40% of their misses against Nebraska, giving them multiple second chance opportunities.
Having lost three in a row and five of their last six, Wisconsin is not really heading into postseason with play with traditional momentum. However, I truly think that the end of the Iowa game (UW’s best performance in a while) and Greg Gard ethering the Big Ten officials in his post-game press conference finally has this team locked in at just the right time.
I guess we’ll see on Thursday night!
How to watch/listen
TV: BTN, around 8:00 p.m., CST, Brandon Gaudin, Shon Morris
Streaming: FOX Sports Go
Radio/Satellite: 1310 AM, Sirius/XM 195; Matt Lepay, Mike Lucas
Live stats: Here!
Arena: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Ind.
Line: Wisconsin -5
KenPom Wisconsin win percentage: 62%
Fun facts (according to the media guides)
- Wisconsin is looking for its fourth Big Ten tournament championship, having won titles in 2004, 2008 and 2015 previously. The Badgers have the third most BTT titles, only behind Ohio State (four) and Michigan State (six).
- Wisconsin has made seven Big Ten title game appearances - trailing only Ohio State (eight).
- Wisconsin is 25-19 (.561) overall in 20 Big Ten Tournament appearances.
- The Badgers’ 25 Big Ten tournament wins and .568 win pct. both rank No. 4 in the conference.
- The Badgers are 2-2 all-time as a No. 6 seed.
- Wisconsin split the season series with Penn State, with both teams winning at home. Overall, the Badgers are 40-11 all-time against PSU and 9-1 in their last 10.
- In the 2011 Big Ten Tournament, Wisconsin and Penn State scored 69 points COMBINED in maybe the worst game of basketball in the history of the universe.
- Wisconsin boasts three Big Ten Tournament MOPs: Devin Harris (2004), Marcus Landry (2008) and Frank Kaminsky (2015).
- The Badgers have earned 15 All-Tournament team honors overall, trailing only Ohio State (21) and Michigan State (17).
- The Badgers have an extensive history in Indianapolis. Not only did Wisconsin win the 2004 and 2008 Big Ten Tournaments there, the Badgers also played in the 2000 Final Four at the RCA Dome and the 2015 Final Four at Lucas Oil Stadium.
- Heading into postseason play, Wisconsin is ranked No. 11 by KenPom, No. 17 in Sagarin, No. 18 in BPI and No. 26 in the NET Rankings.
- The Badgers have participated in 20 of the last 21 NCAA tournaments. Wisconsin is one of just five schools to do so, joined by Kansas, Duke, Michigan State and Gonzaga
- Wisconsin is 8-0 when shooting at least 40% from 3-point range this season and 12-0 when shooting a better FG pct. than its foe.
- Wisconsin leads the Big Ten allowing 64.0 ppg.
- UW leads the NCAA averaging 8.8 turnovers per game.
- UW is No. 3 in the B1G shooting 76.0% from the FT line - that would rank No. 4 in school history.
- Third-Team All-Big Ten selection D’Mitrik Triceis one of just eight Big Ten players to tally at least 1,300 points, 400 rebounds and 400 assists in the last 10 years.
- Trice leads the Badgers averaging 13.7 ppg (38.5% 3FG), 3.9 apg and ranks No. 3 in the Big Ten with a 2.3 assist-to-turnover ratio.
- Micah Potter has scored in double figures in five straight games, averaging 18.2 ppg (61.5% FG, 50% 3FG), 5.8 rpg. He matched his season high scoring 23 points at No. 5 Iowa on Sunday, shooting 9-for-12 from the floor (4-6 3FG).
- Brad Davison is averaging 12.0 ppg over the last five games, shooting 12-for-29 (41.4%) from 3-point range and 12-for-14 at the FT line.
- Davison has played in 120 straight games for UW.
- Freshman Jonathan Davis has scored in double figures five of the last nine games, averaging 8.7 ppg, shooting 44.4% FG and 50% 3FG (8-of-16).
- Penn State’s all-time BTT record is 14-22 and they’ve finished as conference runner-up once (in 2011). They’ve never won the BTT.
- D’Mitrik Trice, 6-foot, redshirt senior, guard, No. 0
- Aleem Ford, 6-foot-8, redshirt senior, forward, No. 2
- Tyler Wahl, 6-foot-9, sophomore, forward, No. 5
- Brad Davison, 6-foot-4, senior, guard, No. 34
- Nate Reuvers, 6-foot-11, senior, forward, No. 35
- Myreon Jones, 6-foot-3, junior, guard, No. 0
- Myles Dread, 6-foot-4, junior, guard, No. 2
- Jamari Wheeler, 6-foot-1, senior, guard, No. 5
- Izaiah Brockington, 6-foot-4, junior, guard, No. 12
- John Harrar, 6-foot-9, senior, forward, No. 21