After a roller coaster season, the Wisconsin Badgers (14-6 Big Ten, 21-10 overall) clinched a share of the Big Ten regular season title thanks to a furious, late rally against the Indiana Hoosiers (9-11, 19-12) that gave UW a 60-56 win.
Wisconsin started out hot shooting from three in the first half. Junior guard Brad Davison opened the game with a three then junior forward Nate Reuvers hit two in a row to give UW the early 11-8 lead.
Junior forward Aleem Ford hit two threes at the end of the first half as Wisconsin shot 46 percent from beyond the arc during the first. However, Indiana senior guard Devonte Green led the way for Indiana with 16 points in the first half and helped the Hoosiers get a 28-25 lead at halftime.
In the second half, Wisconsin flipped the script on offense, earning most of their points in the paint from the work of Reuvers and junior forward Micah Potter.
After scoring only two points in the paint in the first half, the Badgers had 18 in the second as Potter and Reuvers began to assert themselves despite being in foul trouble. Reuvers led the team with 17 points while Potter had a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
IU built a 51-44 lead with 6:52 left in the game as freshman forward Race Thompson hit two free throws. Wisconsin then went on a 12-0 run punctuated by a layup from junior guard D’Mitrik Trice to make the score 56-51 with 1:18 left in the game.
Wisconsin’s defense was stifling — especially in the second half. Green — who hit 16 in the first — was held to 0 points in the second half and IU was held scoreless for five minutes after those last free throws from Thompson.
The Hoosiers shot 17 percent from three in the second with the only make coming from junior guard Aljami Durham which ended the Badgers’ run and cut the deficit to 56-54.
But Reuvers hit a put back with 22 seconds left to extend Wisconsin’s lead. Then Brad Davison hit two clutch free throws with 7 seconds on the clock and Wisconsin was able to celebrate a Big Ten title that looked unlikely before Big Ten play started.
Wisconsin was 5-5 before the fall semester ended, including losses to Richmond and New Mexico where the offense looked anemic. Potter was cleared by the NCAA after the semester, and the Badgers won four-straight including a win at then-No. 5 Ohio State.
UW then struggled to find consistency in January during a tough stretch of Big Ten play, and Wisconsin began to have more adversity off the court.
The Badgers helped turn around the season with a huge 64-63 upset win against the Michigan State Spartans which put Wisconsin at 6-5 in Big Ten play. After a 70-52 beatdown at Minnesota against the Golden Gophers, UW rattled off their win streak and capped the regular season with this win and the Big Ten title.
After doubts of a NCAA Tournament berth early in the season, Wisconsin now has a Big Ten title and is coming into the postseason on a hot streak.
It’s March, and anything is possible for the Badgers.