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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Thursday, June 13, 2024
Mike Bruesewitz

Men's Basketball: Badgers prepare for Spartans on road

Either No. 22 Wisconsin (11-5 Big Ten, 20-9 overall) or No. 10 Michigan State (11-5, 22-7) will be eliminated from regular season conference championship contention after the teams’ showdown Thursday in East Lansing.

No. 2 Indiana’s loss to No. 14 Ohio State Tuesday opened the door for four Big Ten teams to share the regular season title, including the Badgers and Spartans, who will both enter the game having lost in their last outing.

Wisconsin is coming off perhaps its worst defeat of the season, a 69-56 home loss to Purdue. Coming out flat Thursday night won’t be an issue for UW, however, according to senior forward Mike Bruesewitz.

“[Moving past the loss is] not hard at all. It happened,” Bruesewitz said. “We gotta learn and forget about it—that’s about all you can do. You can’t cry over spilled milk.”

Freshman forward Sam Dekker said the truly good teams come out ready to play regardless of the previous game’s outcome. The truly good teams find a way to get beyond the highs and fight through the lows.

“You gotta put those [losses] behind you, go out and work hard, make your team better and push to make more runs,” Dekker said. “Hopefully we can get a streak going here at the end of the year to go into tournament play with some momentum.”

Associate coach Gary Close said Wisconsin has done a good job of bouncing back from its losses this season—UW has dropped consecutive games just once this season. That losing streak incidentally came at the hands of Michigan State, who topped the Badgers 49-47 at the Kohl Center just three days after they had lost to Iowa.

“If you dwell too much on it, then you’re gonna set yourself up to not be in as good of position to win the next game,” Close said.

While the Badgers are coming off a disappointing loss, the Spartans have dropped three consecutive contests. Most teams that lose three straight games would be deemed vulnerable to another ‘L.’ However, given the games Michigan State lost—a home game to then-No. 1 Indiana and road games at then-No. 18 Ohio State and then-No. 4 Michigan—Close said if anything, UW is catching the Spartans at the wrong time.

“Anybody who goes through that gauntlet is probably gonna lose some games,” Close said. “They’re desperate for a win and want to finish strong, and they’re playing at home. We’re gonna have to play really well to beat them.”

The Breslin Center has gained a reputation as one of the tougher venues in the Big Ten during MSU head coach Tom Izzo’s tenure. The Spartans have lost just one home game this season, and Wisconsin has lost seven straight at the arena, its last such win coming in March of 2004.

“It’s the best environment in college basketball. It’s crazy,” Bruesewitz said. “They got some good fans down there—I expect some interesting insults.”

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Dekker, who will play at the Breslin Center for the first time Thursday, is nonetheless aware of how difficult it is to knock off MSU at home.

“From what I hear it’s a tough place to play for teams,” Dekker said. “But we have guys that are ready for that stuff and that can face that adversity and that pressure of being in a tough game.”

As if Thursday night’s matchup wasn’t already critical enough for UW and Michigan State, Dekker said teams get that must-win feeling even more than usual in March.

“It’s a magical time for a lot of teams,” Dekker said. “Memories are always made in March.”

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