Enter the most improved player on Wisconsin's roster.
Jared Berggren did a bit of everything to keep No.9 Wisconsin close before ultimately falling 60-57 to No.5 North Carolina Wednesday. His shot fakes yielded strong drives into the lane. He shot 40 percent (2 of 5) from the perimeter. His length inside allowed him to grab five rebounds and a team-high three on the offensive glass.
In a word, he did all the things to make the Badgers competitive in a hostile environment.
"I was going to tell you he did those things but you just said them," said UW coach Bo Ryan. "He's getting better. He's a good player and he works hard. He's starting to come into his own and it's good to see."
An every-day starter for the first time in his career, Berggren entered Wednesday averaging 12.3 points (second best on the team) and 5.3 rebounds (third best). He's broken out plenty of times already in 2011-12, scoring a career-high 21 points in 21 minutes and followed that with his first double-digit rebounding performance, grabbing 10 rebounds against Bradley.
"I didn't feel anything different than some of the other games this year," said Berggren. "I was able to contribute and if I was able to do some things out there, it's always good for a little confidence."
Berggren's 14 points give him five double-digit scoring games this season, and he still has the critical eye of where he needs to get better in order to compete against No.16 Marquette Saturday.
"I still let (Tyler) Zeller get too many touched on the block," Berggren said. "He's pretty much automatic in there if he catches the ball within eight feet of the basket. There were a few too many where I didn't work him hard enough and there were some opportunities on the glass where I could have cleaned up some rebounds.
"And we didn't get the win, which is the most important thing."
Frank the Tank
Wisconsin knew it was going to have a hard time defending a North Carolina front court that included 6-11 John Henson, 6-8 Harrison Barnes and 7-0 Tyler Zeller, especially since UW only has two players in the rotation that are above 6-6.
With Berggren needing help in the post, the UW coaching staff turned to true freshman Frank Kaminksy to provide it.
"We told Frank to go out there and guard anybody your size," said Ryan. "That's what we tell the bigs. And with North Carolina, it wasn't hard to find somebody (his) size."
Kaminsky held his own matched up with Zeller, as the senior finished with 12 points and only one offensive rebound. Kaminksy chipped in offensively, too, hitting a three-pointer during UNC's 18-5 second-half run that effectively put the game out of reach.
Out of Gas
Entering the game shooting a Big Ten-best 71.4 percent from 3-point range and one of four Badgers to average in double figures, sophomore Josh Gasser will be happy to put the Dean Dome in his review mirror. Shooting 0-for-3 from the field and scoring no points, it was the first time he was held scoreless since March 11 vs. Penn State.
"As hard as he was working defensively and everything else, I am not trading him, even though he struggled," said Ryan of Gasser, who grabbed four steals and notched two rebounds. "He'll be fine."
Three Straight for Big Ten
With a 4-2 lead in the 12-team challenge, the Big Ten clinched the conference victory over a third-straight season by an 8-4 margin, getting wins Wednesday from Michigan State (home vs. Florida State), Penn State (at Boston College), Indiana (at N.C. State) and Minnesota (home vs. Virginia Tech).
It's the conference's largest margin of victory in the 13 event, which was won by the ACC the first 10 times.