Preview: Minnesota at No.14 Wisconsin

After its somewhat shocking three-point victory in Columbus on Sunday, No.14 Wisconsin will close out the regular season with a pair of home games in hopes of building momentum heading into the Big Ten Tournament. First up, UW hosts struggling Minnesota Tuesday night.

Minnesota (17-12, 5-11 Big Ten) vs. No.14 Wisconsin (21-8, 10-6 Big Ten)

Date/Time - Tuesday, February 28, 7 p.m. Central

Arena – Kohl Center (17,230)

Television - Big Ten Network (Gus Johnson and Jimmy Jackson)

Radio - Wisconsin Radio Network (Matt Lepay and Mike Lucas)

Series – Minnesota leads 100-90 (Wisconsin leads 58-33 in Madison)

Last Meeting – Wisconsin won, 68-61, in overtime on February 9, 2012 in Minneapolis

Wisconsin Probable Starters

5 Ryan Evans (6-6 Junior Forward, 10.7 ppg)

11 Jordan Taylor (6-1 Senior Guard, 14.3 ppg)

21 Josh Gasser (6-3 Sophomore Guard, 7.8 ppg)

31 Mike Bruesewitz (6-6 Junior Forward, 6.1 ppg)

40 Jared Berggren (6-10 Junior Forward, 10.6 ppg)

Off the Bench

1 Ben Brust (6-1 Sophomore Guard, 8.0 ppg)

12 Traevon Jackson (6-2 Freshman Guard, 1.4 ppg)

33 Rob Wilson (6-4 Senior Guard, 2.9 ppg)

44 Frank Kaminsky (6-11 Freshman Forward, 2.0 ppg)

Minnesota Probable Starters

00 Julian Welch (6-3 Junior Guard, 10.2 ppg)

11 Joe Coleman (6-4 Freshman Guard, 5.5 ppg)

20 Austin Hollins (6-4 Sophomore Guard, 8.8 ppg)

33 Rodney Williams (6-7 Junior Forward, 10.7 ppg)

50 Ralph Sampson III (6-11 Senior Forward, 7.7 ppg)

Off the Bench

1 Andre Hollins (6-1 Freshman Guard, 6.1 ppg)

10 Oto Ošenieks (6-8 Freshman Forward, 3.4 ppg)

13 Maverick Ahanmisi (6-2 Sophomore Guard, 3.5 ppg)

55 Elliott Eliason (6-11 Freshman Center, 2.6 ppg)

Last Time Out

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Berggren was one of the key players in helping No.16 Wisconsin earn a hard fought 63-60 victory over No.8 Ohio State at Value City Arena, giving the Badgers their first road win over a Big Ten team ranked in the AP Top 10 since Jan. 26, 1980 when they beat No. 4 Ohio State, a UW team that coach Bo Ryan was an assistant on.

UW is one win from clinching a top four finish in the conference in all 11 years under Ryan because Berggren (18 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block and 1 steal) and Taylor (19 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 turnovers) took over in the final six minutes.

After Aaron Craft's jumper put Ohio State (23-6, 11-5) up eight with 8:13 to go, its largest lead of the game, the Badgers closed the game on a 21-10 run – getting 10 points from Berggren and nine from Taylor. This production came after Berggren was held to 2-for-7 shooting, 0-for-2 from three, and just four points and Taylor managed only 9 points and four turnovers verse Iowa.

No shot on that final stretch was bigger for Wisconsin than Berggren. In a game that featured 22 lead changes and nine ties, Berggren drilled a 3-pointer off a high ball screen with 31 seconds left that put Wisconsin up 61-59.

"It was a big shot by him," said Taylor of the shot. "He's a really good player. He's just got to believe in himself and the sky's the limit for us."

After Deshaun Thomas (game-high 23 points) threw up a wild shot from the top of the key with eight seconds left, Berggren grabbed the rebound and made two free throws to ice the game. Those almost fail to compare to his work on Sullinger.

Sullinger scored 24 points – 16 in the first half - in Ohio State's 58-52 win earlier this month, a stat that Berggren took personally. This time, Berggren and company made it a tough challenge for Sullinger by matching his aggressiveness and making him work on every shot.

As a result, Sullinger, who Ohio State coach Thad Matta said was battling a cold, was held to eight points, nine below his average, on 4-of-10 shooting.

- By Benjamin Worgull –

Last Meeting

MINNEAPOLIS - It would have been an outcome that would have haunted senior guard Jordan Taylor every time he crossed the St. Croix River.

Scoring 22 points in 40 minutes but watching a lead dwindle to nothing down the stretch, Taylor was a possession away from ending his career 0-3 in Minneapolis and dropping another heartbreaker where fans said he didn't do enough. He would have none of it.

UW's senior point guard and Bloomington, Minn., native used his defense to force a game-winning shot to fall well short and use his offense to get back on track with a dominate 27-point performance in No.21 Wisconsin's 68-61 victory over the Golden Gophers.

"Anytime you can win on the road against a tough opponent, it's always fun," said Taylor. "I haven't won here, so I'd be lying to you if I said I didn't enjoy that one a little bit."

It appeared it was going to come easy with time winding down in the second half. Building its lead to as many as 13 points, Wisconsin was sitting pretty after Jared Berggren converted one of 12 offensive rebounds into points, making the lead 51-41 with 7:43 remaining.

Those were the last points Wisconsin made in regulation, as nine consecutive missed shots and a 10-0 run ignited a Gophers crowd dying to cheer for something all night. It nearly could have been 12-0 had Taylor not scouted the tendencies of Andre Hollins.

Hollins scored 20 points to lead the Gophers (17-8, 5-7) but got caught when Taylor read his crossover dribble and forced a shot the UW senior contested. The end result was an air ball and desperation heave by Austin Hollins with no time left that sent the game to overtime. "I have seen the play a few times and I know he likes the left-to-right cross," said Taylor. "He's quick, so I just tried to stay solid, stay in front of him and I was fortunate to get a piece of the shot."

Josh Gasser was kicking himself in those few seconds between shots. After the initial miss, Gasser had an opportunity to secure the loose rebound, but couldn't both hands on it. When Austin Hollins missed, Gasser knew he and his teammates had a chance to make up for nearly eight minutes of complacency. Attacking the paint early and often in the extra session, it started with Gasser drawing a foul as he attacked the rim and continued from there, as the Badgers scored 15 of their 17 points from the line on 15 of 17 free throw attempts.

- By Benjamin Worgull –

Series Notes:

Wisconsin and Minnesota will be playing for the 191st time Tuesday night, making the Gophers the most played opponent in UW history.

Bo Ryan owns a 14-4 (.778) record against Minnesota with a 7-1 record at the Kohl Center. Tubby Smith owns a 3-4 (.429) record against Ryan's teams, including a mark of 1-2 in Madison.

The Badgers have won 15 of the last 19, including two straight. Most recently, UW defeated the Gophers, 68-61, in OT on Feb. 9 at Williams Arena.

UW and UM have split the last 6 meetings with the total score being separated by just one point. The Badgers have scored 373 points, while the Gophers have scored 374.

Jordan Taylor has averaged 24.5 points in his last 2 meetings with Minnesota, including 27 points in the Feb. 9 meeting. Taylor also scored 22 points with 7 assists in the only UW-UM meeting a year ago.

Ryan Evans posted his first-career double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds in the Feb. 9 contest.

The Badgers' roster has 4 players from the state of Minnesota: Jared Berggren (Princeton), Mike Bruesewitz (St. Paul), Jordan Smith (Orono) and Jordan Taylor (Bloomington).

Wisconsin Notes

With a team-high 19 points at Ohio State, Jordan Taylor moved into 10th place on UW's all-time scoring list with 1,416 career points. The Cousy Award finalist is averaging 16.0 ppg during Big Ten play.

UW overcame an 8-point deficit with 8:13 remaining to pull out the road win over No. 8 Ohio State. It marked the Badgers' largest second-half comeback of the season.

Wisconsin leads the Big Ten shooting 77.6 percent (190-245) from the free throw line during conference play this season. Overall, Wisconsin is shooting 73.6 percent (331-450) from the charity stripe, which ranks 3rd in the Big Ten. Shooting 40 percent seems to be the magic number for Wisconsin. The Badgers are 16-2 when shooting 40.0 percent or better and just 5-6 when under that mark.

The Badgers turned it over just 7 times in the win at Ohio State, the second-fewest giveaways against the Buckeyes this season (Purdue had 4 in a loss on Feb. 7).

Minnesota Notes:

Wisconsin is the Gophers' eighth top-25 opponent this season and its fifth in six games.

Gopher senior Ralph Sampson III comes into the game 4 points shy of 1,000 career points. With 1,000 points, Sampson III will become just the fifth Gopher player with 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 150 blocks. The others are Kevin McHale, Randy Breuer, Mychal Thompson and Michael Bauer.

Junior Julian Welch is leading the Gophers in three-point shooting in his first season on campus. He comes into the Wisconsin game sixth in the Big ten Conference in three-point shooting at .434 (36-83). His percentage is currently the third-highest single-season performance in Gopher history behind Travarus Bennett (.469: 2001-02) & Blake Hoffarber (.467: 2009-10).

Minnesota is playing out the season without its senior forward Trevor Mbakwe, a Preseason All-American, following a knee injury. He was averaging a team-high 14.0 points and 9.1 rebounds per game.

Minnesota is outscoring its opponents this season at a plus-98 (3.4 average) rate in the second half of games as opposed to a plus-2 (0.1 average) in the first half.


Well, wasn't that a pleasant surprise? I mean who outside of the Wisconsin basketball program could honestly say the Badgers were going to win that game in the way they did? We should know the drill by now. Never count out a Bo Ryan-led team. The Badgers have made a living out of defying expectations during the Ryan era.

To say that Minnesota was limping to the finish line of the Big Ten schedule would be understatement. Major understatement.

"We didn't show that spirit, that fight that you have to have," coach Tubby Smith said after his Gophers were handled by No. 23 Indiana Sunday in Minneapolis.

It was the fifth-straight loss and the sixth in the last seven games for the Gophers, who don't even appear to be a bubble team anymore as they have dropped off the radar (barring, of course, a run in the Big Ten tournament).

And they're losing games in all shapes and sizes. Against Michigan State, the led by six with 3:27 left and got hit by a 12-0 run that allowed the Spartans to avoid the upset.

"It's disappointing that we played so well for 30-plus minutes and we came out with a loss," Smith said after that one. "We needed to take care of the ball better down the stretch. We looked nervous. Michigan State got more physical and more aggressive and we just folded under pressure."

There's been a lot of that lately, as Minnesota has lost 21 of its last 26 Big Ten games. Sophomore Austin Hollins was the only Gopher to score more than six points in Sunday's loss, senior Ralph Sampson III shot 1-for-11 from the floor, the worst shooting day of career in a game where he took five or more shots and junior F Rodney Williams has cooled off since scoring a career-high 21 points and grabbing nine rebounds in the Feb. 14 loss to Ohio State. In the past three games, he has averaged 7.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per contest.

Wisconsin beat Ohio State, Illinois and Purdue on the road for the first time in the same season since 1913, is in position to receive a top four seed in the Big Ten Tournament for the 11th time in 11 years under Ryan and a top four seed in the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time in the last six years.

More importantly, Wisconsin is looking to rekindle some Kohl Center momentum heading into the tournament against the two biggest underachieving teams in the conference. The road to the Big Ten Tournament title starts with a 12-point victory tonight.

Worgull's Record: 23-6

Points off Prediction: 274 (9.45 per game)

Badger Nation Top Stories