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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Tuesday, February 27, 2024
 Cayla McMorris and the rest of her senior class look to take advantage of their final shot at a postseason run Wednesday against Northwestern.

 Cayla McMorris and the rest of her senior class look to take advantage of their final shot at a postseason run Wednesday against Northwestern.

Big Ten tournament preview: Wisconsin looks to extend campaign after rough regular season

Wisconsin’s women’s basketball team most definitely did not exceed any expectations this season. After starting the season 2-0 in exhibition matchups to in-state teams, the Badgers dropped three straight to kick off the 2016-’17 season before snagging its first victory, a five-point win, at home against Butler.

Three months and nine days after its first victory, Wisconsin was handed an 11 seed in this year’s Big Ten tournament, a spot that could potentially launch them on a path to victory.

Wisconsin (3-13 Big Ten, 8-21 overall) drew Rutgers (3-12, 6-23) for its first game. Wednesday’s game, which takes place in Indianapolis, will be a rubber match between the two teams. Rutgers took game one, 68-52 at home, while Wisconsin took game two, 53-41 in Madison.

The Badgers were in the heat of a 10-game losing streak at the end of the season before they found their first conference victory, against Nebraska, at home in early February.

That first win helped solidify some aspects of Wisconsin’s game, giving the young team with a rookie coach in Jonathan Tsipis some hope as the season drew to an end. Wisconsin went on to win two more conference games, back-to-back in fact, against Rutgers and Illinois.

As the season reached the finish line, Wisconsin saw heightened play from multiple players, providing hope for the tournament. Freshman point guard Kendra Van Leeuwen hit the game-winning shot against Illinois. Freshman forward Courtney Fredrickson and redshirt senior forward Avyanna Young both recorded double-doubles in the win against Nebraska, and junior guard Cayla McMorris continues to do what she has done all year—score.

McMorris and Young lead the stat sheet for Wisconsin, McMorris with 12.2 points per game and Young with 11.2. Young is also averaging seven rebounds a game. Both players will need to come out ready to compete in Wisconsin’s first game in hopes of extending the season, and Young’s career.

It has not been an easy, or overly attractive, season for Wisconsin. Eight new players, six freshmen and a rookie coach is usually not a recipe for a top seed in a powerful conference that holds some of the nation’s top scorers and teams. Nonetheless, they still have an opportunity to advance to the tournament’s second round.

If Wisconsin wins its first game they will move on to face sixth-seeded Michigan State, a team that took down Wisconsin 81-57 at home earlier in the season.

If Wisconsin were to win game two, they would then go up against No. 3 Michigan, another team that beat the Badgers earlier by a score of 73-56, also in Madison. If the Badgers win that game, UW would most likely face Maryland, the No. 2 seed in the tournament.

Maryland and Ohio State each have a share of the Big Ten title this season, however the Buckeyes were able to grab the No. 1 seed in the tournament, going 15-1 in the Big Ten, one of those wins being an upset over Maryland.

It’s a one-game season now, but the Badgers have a chance to extend their season for at least one more day.

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Wisconsin’s first game will be played Wednesday at 3 p.m. and aired on Big Ten Network.

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