Breakdown: No.22 UW at No.10 Michigan State

In game that amounts to a Big Ten championship elimination game, No.22 Wisconsin looks to end a seven game losing streak in East Lansing when it takes on No.10 Michigan State Thursday night.

No.22 Wisconsin (20-9, 11-5 Big Ten) at No.10 Michigan State (22-7, 11-5 Big Ten)

Date/Time -Thursday, March 7, 8 p.m. Central

Arena –Breslin Center (14,797)

Television - ESPN (Joe Tessitore and Sean Farnham)

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

Series – Michigan State leads 73-60 (Michigan State leads 46-36 in East Lansing)

Last Meeting - Michigan State won, 49-47, on January 22, 2013 in Madison

Wisconsin Probable Starters

1 Ben Brust (6-1 Junior Guard, 11.3 ppg)

5 Ryan Evans (6-6 Senior Forward, 10.4 ppg)

12 Traevon Jackson (6-2 Sophomore Guard, 6.4 ppg)

31 Mike Bruesewitz (6-6 Senior Forward, 6.6 ppg)

40 Jared Berggren (6-10 Senior Forward, 11.6 ppg)

Off the Bench

3 George Marshall (5-11 Freshman Guard, 4.6 ppg)

15 Sam Dekker (6-7 Freshman Forward, 9.6 ppg)

32 Zak Showalter (6-2 Freshman Guard, 1.9 ppg)

44 Frank Kaminsky (6-11 Sophomore Forward, 4.5 ppg)

Michigan State Probable Starters

5 Adreian Payne (6-10 Junior Forward, 10.1 ppg)

11 Keith Appling (6-1 Junior Guard, 13.2 ppg)

14 Gary Harris (6-4 Freshman Guard, 13.3 ppg)

22 Branden Dawson (6-6 Sophomore Forward, 10.1 ppg)

25 Derrick Nix (6-9 Senior Center, 9.4 ppg)

Off the Bench

0 Russell Byrd (6-7 Sophomore Guard, 1.6 ppg)

2 Alex Gauna (6-9 Sophomore Forward, 1.4 ppg)

10 Matt Costello (6-9 Freshman Forward, 1.7 ppg)

20 Travis Trice (6-0 Sophomore Guard, 5.1 ppg)

45 Denzel Valentine (6-5 Freshman Guard, 5.3 ppg)

Last Time Out

MADISON (BadgerNation) - The senior day magic finally dissipated for the University of Wisconsin, and it likely took the Badgers' Big Ten conference title hopes with it.

After winning three consecutive conference games by at least 20 points for the first time since 1911-12, No.17 Wisconsin imploded in the second half, allowing Purdue to roll to a 69-56 victory at the Kohl Center.

"This is a pretty big loss for us," said senior Jared Berggren, as Wisconsin fell to 11-1 on Senior Day under Coach Bo Ryan. "This hurts."

And just like how the Badgers failed to close their game at Minneapolis a little more than two weeks ago, Wisconsin will regret this one for shooting itself out of a victory.

After Wisconsin shot 50 percent from the floor and 40 percent (6-for-15) from 3-point range in the first half, the Badgers shot 8-for-27 (29.6 percent) from the floor after halftime and missed their last 18 3-point attempts. Wisconsin's last 3-pointer came from junior Ben Brust at the 6:59 mark of the first half, as five UW players missed at least three 3-pointers.

"Obviously when we don't make any it looks kind of bad," said Berggren, who shot 1-for-6 from 3-point range as UW finished 6-for-28 (21.4 percent) from behind the arc. "For the most part they were pretty good looks and we didn't knock them down."

With Wisconsin's offense was spinning its wheels, Purdue (14-15, 7-9) took control for good with a 21-3 run, as senior D.J. Byrd scoring nine of his game-high 22 points and junior Terone Johnson scoring of his 16 points during that stretch.

During the7:31 Purdue run, Wisconsin went 1-for-6 from the floor, committed four turnovers and allowed the Boilermakers to score 12 points in the paint by executing floaters and getting looks off pick-and-rolls.

The Boilermakers, who came in eighth in the Big Ten in field-goal shooting in league play at 40.6 percent, hit 13 of 28 shots (46.4 percent) in the first half and finished 45.6 percent overall.

Wisconsin battled back to cut the lead to four with 7:30 remaining, but Purdue went on an 11-2 run in a 6:25 span to lead 65-52 with 1:05 to go to ice the game.

Last Meeting

MADISON (BadgerNation) - The Badgers made one field goal in the final 7:37 and were anti-clutch from the free-throw line, costing them dearly in a 49-47 defeat to No.13 Michigan State Jan.22 at the Kohl Center.

The final defensive numbers would suggest Wisconsin (13-6, 4-2 Big Ten) redeemed itself after allowing Iowa to be first opponent in 11 games to score over 60 points. Michigan State (17-3, 6-1) came in shooting 46.8 percent and averaging 70.3 points per game and was held to 38.3 percent shooting and a season-low 49 points.

But the Spartans won for the second straight time at the Kohl Center, and fourth time overall in the series, because the Badgers couldn't make a shot consistently from anywhere.

Failing to move back into first place in the Big Ten with a victory, Wisconsin finished 29.6 percent from 2-point range (8-for-27) and 3-point range (8-for-27).

"We might have settled for too many outside looks," said Berggren, who finished with 9 points on 3-for-10 shooting. "I think there were more opportunities for a shot fake, a drive, get the ball inside a little more … The looks were there."

Ryan Evans (2 of 12) and Traevon Jackson (2 of 9) combined to make only 4 of 21 field-goal attempts. They took 38.9 percent of UW's total shots (21 of 54). Neither was available to the media.

But what really cost Wisconsin was at the free throw line, a place that has been horrific for Wisconsin all season. Entering the game last in the conference in free throw percentage, the Badgers embarrassed themselves with an ugly 38.9 percent (7-for-18) from the line, including 5-for-13 in the second half and missing their last five with the lead still well within reach.

The misses were contagious from the team's worst free throw shooter - Ryan Evans – going 1-for-2 to one of its best – 75.9 percent shooter Berggren – missing 6 of 8, including the front end of a bonus situation with the Badgers down three with 5:23 remaining.

Arguably the most painful misses came in the final seconds. After Evans hit a three-pointer, only his second in 20 attempts this season, freshman George Marshall was fouled on a drive to the lane with three seconds left. Having a chance to tie, Marshall missed the first and didn't draw iron when he intentionally missed the second, giving the ball to Michigan State out of bounds.

The Spartans dribbled out the clock from there.

Series Notes:

UW is 13-10 against the Spartans under Bo Ryan, but Michigan State has won 4 in a row in the series.

Ryan's teams won in each of their first 2 visits to East Lansing, but have since lost 7 in a row. UW's last win at the Breslin Center was a 68-64 OT win in 2004.

At least one team has been ranked in 22 of the last 23 meetings. This marks the 8th time in the last 12 meetings that both schools are ranked in the AP poll.

Bo Ryan (.708) and MSU head coach Tom Izzo (.686) currently rank 1st and 4th, respectively in career Big Ten win percentage.

Izzo (18 years) and Ryan (12 years) are two of three longest-tenured coaches in the Big Ten - Bill Carmody has been at Northwestern 13 years.

Izzo (207) and Ryan (143) also rank 1-2 in career Big Ten wins among active coaches. Overall, Izzo ranks 6th on the Big Ten's all-time list and Ryan ranks 12th.

Wisconsin Notes

Dekker has emerged as the most dangerous 6th man in the Big Ten. The reigning co-Freshman of the Week, Dekker has scored in double figures in 6 straight games and is 4th in the conference, shooting 44.6 percent from 3-point range. His 9.4 ppg in Big Ten play is tops among Sixth Man candidates.

UW is 6-2 in February and March. Over Bo Ryan's 12 seasons, Wisconsin has gone 79-27 (.745) in regular-season games played on Feb. 1 or later.

UW is 4-3 on the road in the Big Ten this season and 10-6 over the last 2 seasons. Wisconsin's .625 winning percentage and 10 wins are the best marks in the conference. The Badgers have also won their last 2 road games against top-10 teams (at No. 8 Ohio State in 2012 and at No. 2 Indiana in 2013).

Brust is one of the most improved players in the Big Ten, averaging 13.9 points over the last eight games. He also ranks 18th in the Big Ten in rebounds (5.4 rpg) and 8th in 3-point shooting (39.5 percent).

Michigan State Notes:

The Wisconsin game marks Michigan State's fourth straight game against a ranked opponent, including two on the road. MSU will be the only team in the nation to play four straight conference games against ranked opponents this season. The last time a Spartan team played four straight Big Ten games against ranked opponents came in 1993.

Over the last 14 games, Adreian Payne is averaging 12.4 points, shooting 63-of-160 (.594) from the field, including 12-of-24 from 3-point range. In the last four games, he's averaging 15.3 points and 12.0 rebounds, including grabbing 14 boards at Nebraska and a career-high 15 at Ohio State.

Harris is on his way to turning in one of the best freshman campaigns in Michigan State history. His 13.3 ppg overall scoring average ranks third in school history behind just Earvin Johnson (17.0) and Shawn Respert (15.8).

Michigan State presents a balanced scoring attack, especially in Big Ten games, where all five Spartan starters average 9.9 points or better.

Since the start of Big Ten play, Michigan State has been shooting better from 3-point range. Over the last 16 games, the Spartans are shooting .367 (87-of-237) from behind the arc, ranking second in the Big Ten.


When it came to crunch time in past seasons, Wisconsin knew who it was going to turn to. Over the past two seasons, that player was Jordan Taylor. Before him was Jon Leuer. Going back further were players like Trevon Hughes, Kammron Taylor, Alando Tucker and Devin Harris. On this year's edition of Wisconsin basketball, that likely go-to player has been on the bench all season in Josh Gasser.

"Josh had the potential to do that," said assistant coach Gary Close. "He's hit some big shots for us. I think it's a combination of that and some guys going through (the Big Ten) for the first time. Maybe down that road they can be that type of player. Going in, we kind of figured we'd be missing (that dynamic player)."

As a result of UW not having someone who can take over a game, Wisconsin isn't built to make a comeback. In 29 games this season, the Badgers' biggest halftime comeback was 11 points and that was in November. When the deficit went to double digits against Purdue, Wisconsin forced passes, trying to make the great play rather than the good play, and took itself out of the game.

"Some groups are better at scratching or clawing than others," said Ryan. "I don't think for us to get in that kind of hole, that's pretty tough to come back from."

While UW doesn't have that take-over player, Wisconsin does have balance. A year ago Jordan Taylor led Wisconsin in scoring in over half of the team's games, but the Badgers have had eight different players lead the team in scoring this season.

During Big Ten play alone, seven different players have led the Badgers in scoring - Jared Berggren, Ryan Evans, George Marshall, Mike Bruesewitz, Sam Dekker, Traevon Jackson and Ben Brust – and UW has seen eight different players score in double figures in a game this season. Six different players have also reached at least 15 points in a game.

"Any coach would like to have balance, and we've shown that," said Close. "I think it's a big part of why we've had some success is we've had different guys step up."

So that begs the question of what is better for Wisconsin matching up against a team the caliber of the Spartans, a guy who can take over the game or balanced scoring? One would think it's the latter, which plays into UW's favor. MSU is allowing opponents to shoot 39.3 percent from the field, ranking third in the Big Ten, including 31 percent from 3-point range, ranking fourth. MSU also ranks third in the conference in scoring defense, allowing just 59.8 points per contest.

That UW balance was nonexistent the last time these two teams played. Bruesewitz was the only player in double figures on a night where Wisconsin shot 29.6 percent and 7-for-18 from the free throw line.

"These games have just gone down to the last few possessions and if we play well, that'll be the case again," said Close. "We had our chances. We didn't shoot free throws well, they made plays down the stretch and they were better on that night. It was a good competitive game, and I expect the same."

Breslin Center has become Wisconsin's Big Ten house of horrors. Since Wisconsin last won at Breslin Center (3/2/04), UW has won on the road at every B1G venue at least twice (Nebraska, Purdue). On the seven game losing streak, the Badgers have lost five games by nine points or more and one in overtime. Needless to say, Wisconsin has had its chances but hasn't finished the job. Ironically, that's also been a theme in some games this year.

In addition to the 11 missed free throw shooting, the big issue against the Spartans in the first meeting was the defense against Brandon Dawson. With Frank Kaminsky missing the game with an eye injury, Dawson registered 13 rebounds to go along with his 18 points. Izzo complimented Wisconsin's post defense following the game, but the Badgers have to be better inside (another issue that popped up against Purdue).

Breslin Center is a tough place to play and UW has pulled the big road upset already this year. Can UW keep its conference title hopes alive with a win? I believe they can with a perfect game. Problem is I don't see them playing perfect. Michigan State by four.

Worgull's Record: 18-11

Points off Prediction: 346 (11.93 per game)

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