Most bracketologists have the Badgers slotted anywhere between a five and three seed and a win Friday, and especially another win Saturday, would go a long way to improving UW's path to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament. Perhaps just as importantly, location is at stake as well as seeding for the Tourney. A win against (presumably) Purdue on Saturday might propel the Badgers into an opening weekend in Chicago, by far the closest region for fans to travel to.
And then there is also whatever pleasure comes with erasing the memory of the beat down at Ohio State.
Jordan Taylor, however, has a much simpler motivation.
"I have never won a game in the Big Ten Tournament," Taylor said as the Badgers have been one-and-done in the past two years. "I want to get at least one this year. It is a pretty big deal for me."
As for getting over the crushing Ohio State loss, four different UW players said they had moved on by the first practice on Monday. And though there are plenty of lessons defensively to be learned from the defeat — namely make Jon Diebler put it on the deck — all four players said practice was the same as it ever was and no changes in philosophy were made. It is just following through on that philosophy that matters.
It is a team that never gets to high when it wins, so it makes sense they can shake off a tough loss. Each time Wisconsin has lost over the past two seasons, they have responded with a win in the next game..
"We take it hard and we take it personal but we still go about our business and prepare the same way," UW forward Keaton Nankivil said. "For the Tournament to shift your focus on anything other than the games ahead of us is probably a bad idea at this point."
As for momentum heading into postseason play, Taylor shook off the question with a logical insight.
"Last year we went in an beat Illinois in the last game of the regular season and we didn't really play that well in the postseason," Taylor said.
As for Wisconsin's upcoming opponent, the winner of the Penn State and Indiana game, Taylor said the Badgers were making sure to prepare for both — buoyed by the fact that they have seen both teams in the past month.
While Taylor was careful to say both teams would be tough, he did have this nugget to share.
"Talor Battle has been one of the best players in the Big Ten for the past four years now and he has never been to the NCAA Tournament and I'm sure he wants nothing more than that to get there," Taylor said.
While those familiar with the brackets believe two wins in a conference tournament can significantly boost a seed, UW is predictably not bothering themselves with that conjecture.
"It is just a good way to keep people on TV busy," Nankivil joked.
Still, it is March and the normally even-keeled Taylor couldn't help but show some excitement.
"It is the most fun time of the year," Taylor said.