The No. 3 seed improves to 6-7 in Big Ten Tournament (BTT) games, including a 1-0 mark vs. No. 7 seeds. Wisconsin improves to 9-6 in BTT games, including winning five straight, and 2-0 as a No. 3 seed. The five consecutive wins ties the fourth-longest winning streak in BTT play. The nine wins rank third in the eight years of the BTT. The Badgers also improve to 2-2 in semifinal contests and 6-5 in BTT games played at the United Center. Iowa falls to 2-1 in BTT semifinal games and 10-7 overall in BTT contests. The Hawkeyes also drop to 7-5 in BTT games played at the United Center. The No. 7 seed record falls to 6-8 in the eight years of the BTT, while Iowa falls to 3-2 as the No. 7 seed.
Wisconsin advances to play Illinois in the championship tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. CST. The Badgers are 1-0 in BTT championship contests. Wisconsin downed Illinois 70-53 to win the title last year in Indianapolis. The Fighting Illini have defeated Wisconsin twice this season (75-65 in Champaign on 1/25/05 and 70-59 in Champaign on 2/12/05).
Wisconsin improves to 2-0 vs. Iowa this season and 2-1 in BTT games vs. the Hawkeyes. The Badgers won their fifth consecutive overall game, while the Hawkeyes fell for the first time in six contests.
Wisconsin improves to 5-0 in games decided by five points or less, while the Hawkeyes fall to 7-5 in games decided by five points or less. Two BTT games this year have been decided by two points (Iowa 71, Michigan State 69; Northwestern 58, Michigan 56). Two games were also decided by three points (Wisconsin 59, Iowa 56; Ohio State 72, Penn State 69).
Iowa won its first two BTT games this year over Purdue (71-52) and Michigan State (71-69), which are victories over the only two head coaches (Gene Keady and Tom Izzo) that have coached in all eight BTTs.
Wisconsin improves to 20-1 when leading at the half, while Iowa falls to 4-8 when trailing at the break. BTT teams are 7-2 when having the halftime advantage this year.
Wisconsin posted a 2005 BTT-low six turnovers today. The previous low was nine set by the Badgers in last night's game vs. Ohio State. The all-time BTT-low is four set by Wisconsin vs. Michigan State on 3/11/00. In Wisconsin's 15 BTT games it has averaged just 10.7 turnovers per contest, including five games of 10 turnovers or less. Wisconsin has combined for just 15 turnovers (7.5 ppg) in two BTT games this year.
The team that has recorded the most steals improves to 7-0 in BTT games this year (WIS 8, IOWA 2) and has won 21 of the last 24 BTT contests.
In Zach Morley's last eight overall games, he is 29-52 (.558) from the field. He is averaging 20.0 ppg (23 vs. Ohio State and 17 vs. Iowa) in his two BTT appearances in 2005. Mike Wilikinson collected two steals today vs. Iowa boasting his career BTT total to 16 in seven game, which ties him for second on the all-time individual career BTT chart.
The Badgers held the Hawkeyes to just 4-17 (.235) from beyond the arc today. For the season, through 29 games Badger opponents are hitting just 29.1 percent from 3-point range.
Today's session four attendance of 23,697 is a BTT single session record, besting the 2001 session four attendance figure of 23,509. Through the first four sessions of the 2005 BTT the total attendance has been 86,693, second only behind the 2001 BTT first four-session total of 87,688.
No team in the first eight games of the BTT has shot 50 percent or better from the field. Illinois has the best shooting percentage for a single game, converting 48.1 percent (25-52) of its attempts vs. Northwestern in game four. BTT teams have been playing great defense in the first eight games; teams are shooting a cumulative 40.4 percent (393-972) from the field for the 16 teams.
The nine BTT teams that have lost have made only 38.5 percent (185-480) of their field goal attempts. The winning BTT teams are averaging 66.0 ppg, while the losers are averaging 57.0 ppg.
Today was the seventh contest decided by three points or less for Iowa in eight years of BTT play. They have won four of those seven; all four wins were by two points.
Wisconsin recorded its 22nd victory today, which ties for the third-best season total in school history. The 1998-99 Badgers were 22-10, while the 1999-00 Badgers were 22-14.
Wisconsin's bench out-scored Iowa 23-0.
Head Coach Steve Alford:
"It was a really hard-fought, Big Ten game in a great tournament. I thought both teams played hard and gave it everything they had. If you look at the stats, it is a pretty even basketball game. It was our third game in three days. We have a very young and inexperienced bench, so we had to go with the veterans, especially in a tight game, to try to get to that title game. Our guys stepped up and did a lot of really good things. It was one of those games that you hate to see somebody lose. It hurts losing on a fade-away, bank-shot three at the buzzer."
"(Morley) was terrific. He did not play in our first game up at Madison. He had a very good game against Ohio State and backed that up with another solid performance tonight. I thought we took Wilkinson out of the game, which was good since he has been the thorn in our side since he came to Wisconsin. We did a good job of getting him into foul trouble, and Brunner really went at him. We also did a very good job with their guards. We just had a hard time tracking down the two, Morley and Tucker. They really got away from us. Both teams played really hard defensively, and it just came down to them making the last shot and us not."
On the defensive alignment for the final play:
"With the alignment, we did what we wanted to do. We wanted them to catch the ball back in the backcourt and that happened. He (Alando Tucker) caught it in the backcourt and actually fumbled one of the dribbles but was able to retain it. We brought help late, which was good on our guys' part. He just makes a double-clutch, fade-away to the left bank shot. I cannot fault the guys' defensive effort. I thought they defended that play very well. He just happened to make a terrific shot."
"I think it was set up. They made a tough play. Adam Haluska had to come up on the screen and he got caught chasing Alando Tucker from behind. He is a very athletic player. He got in front of him, and it was hard to catch up. He made a tough shot."
On Iowa's showing in the Big Ten Tournament and if they will be in the NCAA Tournament:
"We hope so. We don't have any control over it. We came out and fought hard. Hopefully, us being so close in this game plays a part in it. Getting beat on a buzzer beater like that can play in to it. Our goal is to win a Big Ten Championship. Unfortunately, we fell a little bit short."
On Wisconsin paying extra attention to him:
"I thought they did that up in Madison. They're a very good defensive team. They never beat themselves. We always seem to play good defense against them. We just can't ever score on them. We missed shots tonight and that really killed us, because I think we won the rebounding war. It was a tough night. Playing three games in three days with everyone giving the effort they did. We were a tired team."