Breakdown: No.9 Michigan vs. No.1 Wisconsin

After winning the outright Big Ten championship, No.6 Wisconsin begins its quest for the third conference tournament title in school history as the top seed and draw ninth-seeded Michigan Friday morning. BadgerNation breaks down the matchup and looks at a frustrating history in Chicago's United Center for Wisconsin.

No.9 Michigan (16-15, 8-10 Big Ten) vs. No.1 Wisconsin (28-3, 16-2 Big Ten)

Date/Time -Friday, March 13, 11 a.m. Central

Arena –United Center (20,917)

Television -ESPN (Mike Tirico, Dan Dakich and Quint Kessenich)

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

Series – Michigan leads 88-71 (Wisconsin leads 3-1 on neutral courts)

Last Meeting – Wisconsin won, 69-64, in overtime on January 25, 2015 in Ann Arbor

Wisconsin Probable Starters

10 Nigel Hayes (6-8 Sophomore Forward, 12.0 ppg)

15 Sam Dekker (6-9 Junior Forward, 13.2 ppg)

21 Josh Gasser (6-4 Senior Guard, 7.0 ppg)

24 Bronson Koenig (6-4 Sophomore Guard, 7.8 ppg)

44 Frank Kaminsky (7-0 Senior Forward, 18.4 ppg)

Off the Bench

3 Zak Showalter (6-2 Sophomore Guard, 2.1 ppg)

13 Duje Dukan (6-10 Senior Forward, 4.7 ppg)

30 Vitto Brown (6-8 Sophomore Guard, 2.1 ppg)

Michigan Probable Starters

2 Spike Albrecht (5-11 Junior Guard, 7.4 ppg)

12 Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (6-4 Freshman Guard, 4.4 ppg)

21 Zak Irvin (6-6 Sophomore Guard, 14.0 ppg)

24 Aubrey Dawkins (6-6 Freshman Forward, 7.0 ppg)

44 Max Bielfeldt (6-7 Senior Forward, 5.2 ppg)

Off the Bench

3 Kameron Chatman (6-7 Freshman Forward, 3.7 ppg)

10 Derrick Walton (6-0 Sophomore Guard, 10.7 ppg)

32 Ricky Doyle (6-9 Freshman Forward, 5.9 ppg)

34 Mark Donnal (6-9 Freshman Forward, 3.5 ppg)

Last Meeting

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - No.6 Wisconsin had a sense of déjà vu. Thirteen days earlier Wisconsin blew a double-digit halftime lead in a loss at Rutgers. Saturday Wisconsin had an 11-point lead in the second half and a 54-50 lead with 32 seconds left, yet made mistakes down the stretch that forced them to play five more minutes.

Unlike its loss at Rutgers, however, Wisconsin had its full complement of players and more than enough confidence to finish a game on the road.

“It is definitely a little disappointing; I mean you have a chance to win the game and just like that you have to play another five minutes, but at the same time we were really confident going into the overtime period,” said Gasser, one of the five players with at least nine points in the Badgers’ 69-64 win over the Wolverines.

“We knew it was a five minute game basically, and we happened to make enough players to just come out with it in overtime.”

It helps when the Badgers have more than enough weapons at their disposal. As the extra period started, the Badgers (18-2, 6-1 Big Ten) jumped on the Wolverines (12-8, 5-3) quickly with a converted 3-point play by senior center Frank Kaminsky, who led all scorers with 22 points in the game. After a tough defensive stop, Gasser splashed a 3-pointer on the other end to give Wisconsin a six-point advantage at the 4:01 mark in overtime and never looked back.

“You never want to drop one on the road, especially when your confidence is high,” said Kaminsky, who scored eight of his points in overtime. “It is not something you want to do, and we were able to steal one on Michigan’s court.

“We had that confidence going into overtime. It was big to start fast and we really wanted to take it to them. We wanted to get something going because if we score, go up, then they are trying to fight to come back into it. We were able to get that, then get a stop and hit a three. It kind of broke the game open for us.”

- Brice Marich, BadgerNation.com

Last Time Out

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Playing for pride and a chance at a No.1 seed in the NCAA tournament, No.6 Wisconsin looked as good as it has all season during the clinic it put on during its 72-48 victory over No.23 Ohio State at Value City Arena to end the regular season.

Wisconsin (28-3, 16-2 Big Ten) put three players in double figures, dominated the glass to the tune of a 41-27 edge and held the Buckeyes (22-9, 11-7) to a season-low point total and 29 points below their season average.

No matter the outcome, Wisconsin was already locked into the top seed in this week’s Big Ten tournament. After this latest performance, they will be the heavy, heavy favorite.

“We’re just playing real well right now,” said senior Frank Kaminsky, who is making it look easy after scoring 20 points (his third straight game of at least 20) and five rebounds. “I’m excited about the tournament we have in front of us. We’ll see what happens.”

Following Wisconsin’s win over Michigan State last Sunday, Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan quipped the Badgers needed to see improvement in both 3-point field goal shooting and bench production entering tournament play. In two hostile environments, the Badgers have delivered.

After shooting 10-for-20 Thursday at Minnesota to wrap-up the outright league title, Wisconsin went 7-for-21 against Ohio State, including a pair from Bronson Koenig (15 points) on a decisive 20-2 run in the second half that effectively ended the game.

Sam Dekker added 10 points and eight rebounds, Nigel Hayes had eight points and eight rebounds in his first game in his home state and Josh Gasser had five points and six rebounds as Wisconsin shot 31-for-62. As good as the starters were, the Badgers got their biggest lift from their bench.

Getting only 21 points off the bench over their last eight games, Wisconsin’s three-man crew of Duje Dukan, Vitto Brown and Zak Showalter all simultaneously broke out from their shooting woes by scoring 14 points on 6-for-13 shooting – the most from the reserves since Jan.20.

The bench scored a combined 12 points in the opening 11:34 of the game, one more point that that group had contributed in the previous five games combined.

All eight Wisconsin players who played in the first half scored, helping the Badgers shoot 51.7 percent. It was the complete opposite from Ohio State. The conference leader in field goal percentage (49.3), the Buckeyes shot 28.6 percent (8-for-28) in the first half, including starting 2 of 13 with four turnovers in 16 possessions.

Ohio State finished at 34.0 percent and freshman D’Angelo Russell – the likely Big Ten Freshman of the Year – needed 18 shots and 12 second-half points to finish with a team-high 17.

- BadgerNation.com

Series Notes

UW has won 14 of the last 16 meetings with Michigan overall. Earlier this season, Frank Kaminsky led the Badgers with 22 points and 9 rebounds, while Sam Dekker (15), Bronson Koenig (13) and Nigel Hayes (10) also scored in double digits.

Bo Ryan owns a 19-6 record against Michigan overall, which includes a mark of 13-2 vs. Michigan head coach John Beilein.

Ryan (732 wins) and Beilein (716 wins) rank 5th and 7th, respectively, on the career wins list among active Div. I coaches.

Wisconsin Notes

Wisconsin owns an 18-15 (.545) overall record in the Big Ten Tournament, winning championships in 2004 and 2008 and advancing to the finals in 2005, 2007 and 2013.

The Badgers are a No. 1 seed for the fourth time in tournament history. UW is 3-2 as a No. 1 seed, winning the 2008 Tournament title from that slot.

UW will enjoy a first-round bye in the Big Ten tournament for the 15th consecutive season, including all 14 years of Bo Ryan’s tenure.

The Badgers have not played on Thursday of the BTT since 2000 and have only been seeded lower than 4th three times in the history of the tournament.

Bo Ryan is 14-11 in the Big Ten tournament, owning the third-most wins in conference history.

Ryan earned his fourth Big Ten Coach of the Year honor (coaches choice). He trails only Purdue’s Gene Keady (7) and Indiana’s Bob Knight (5) have earned the distinction more times than Ryan.

Kaminsky was consensus 2015 Big Ten Player of the Year and a unanimous first-team All-Big Ten selection. He is UW’s third Big Ten Player of the Year, joining Devin Harris (2004) and Alando Tucker (2007). Since Ryan took over in the 2001-02 season, UW has had the most Big Ten Player of the Year selections and UW’s 12 first-team all-Big Ten selections over that span are tied with Ohio State for the most in the conference.

Michigan Notes

Michigan’s win over Illinois Thursday was the ninth straight opening round Big Ten Tournament victory for the Wolverines.

The Wolverines put four players in double figures for the seventh time this season in the win over Illinois.

The first half was a game of runs. Michigan opened the game with a 14-2 run, followed by a 13-0 Illinois run that allowed the Illini to take a 15-14 lead. Michigan ended the half with a 26-8 run for a 40-23 lead.

The 18-point win is Michigan’s largest margin of victory over a Big Ten opponent this season.

Junior guard Spike Albrecht finished with five assists. He has five or more assists in eight of the last nine games.

Michigan is 10-2 this year when scoring 70 or more points.

Prediction

Senior guard Josh Gasser is greedy, extremely greedy.

Coming into the season desperately wanting to win a Big Ten championship in his fifth and final season, Gasser got his wish last week when he and his teammates hoisted the regular season trophy for the first time in seven years. Falling short in the regular season had been the prime source of motivation for the Badgers’ last four trips to the Big Ten tournament, motivated by one final chance to win a title.

Now that this current group have their first regular season title, they want their first tournament title.

“We want to go down as one of the best teams to ever come through here, and the more trophies you can have on your side that’s nice to have,” said Gasser. “We want to win it all. We want to win everything we can win. Just because we won the regular season title doesn’t mean we’ll value the tournament any less.”

Three wins this weekend would tie the program record for wins in a season, label the Badgers as one of the greatest teams in school history and cure a lot of postseason ails the Badgers have experienced at the United Center.

The Badgers have finished runner-up the last three times the tournament was held in Chicago - Illinois (2005) and Ohio State twice (2007, 2013) – and lost its opening game in 2003 after winning the conference title outright to – guess who – Ohio State. The anguish isn’t limited to the conference tournament either.

A 30-win Wisconsin team seeded No.2 in the NCAA tournament fell to seventh seed UNLV in the second round, a year in which the Badgers reached No.1 in the AP poll but faltered late after Brian Butch dislocated his elbow in the second-to-last regular season game.

“You’re always trying to win whatever you’re in,” said associate head coach Greg Gard. “Regular season is first, then the conference tournament. I know it’s been debated over at nausea about if we should rest (the starters) going into the NCAA Tournament. As competitors, you want to win the conference tournament and take whatever’s next. If you don’t play well in a game and you get sent home….They have to prepare for what’s next. Anytime you’re going through this you’re not going (the Big Ten tournament) thinking, hey, we are going to lose early so we can get more rest for the NCAA tournament.”

Following an upset of No.8 seed Illinois, Michigan looks to finish what it couldn’t during a five-point overtime home loss against the Badgers Jan.24. In a game that likely burst the Illini’s NCAA tournament buddle, all five Michigan starters scored at least eight points, including four players in double figures, and had three guards register tremendous performances:

Dawkins tallied a team-high 18 points and is averaging 23.3 ppg in his last three outings.

Abdur-Rahkman totaled 15 points and a career-high eight rebounds.

Irvin contributed 14 points and a career-high six assists. Irvin was 2-of-5 from long range, giving him a three-point basket in all 31 games this season and 59 of 68 career games.

Michigan blitzed Illinois because the Illini failed to properly defend a Wolverines team that scores roughly 37 percent of its offense from the 3-point line. Wisconsin can’t afford a similar lapse in judgment.

Simply put, the only team in the Big Ten that can beat Wisconsin on a neutral floor is Wisconsin. In the game at Ann Arbor, Wisconsin let an 11-point second-half lead slip away before watching Kaminsky take over in the extra session. Kaminsky’s confidence, balance and versatility down the stretch have put him at an even higher level than he was at two months ago, meaning Michigan won’t have an answer for him.

In addition to defend the 3-point shot, if the Badgers can guard against dribble penetration, see their starters continue the run they’ve been on and get a lift from the bench, this game should tilt in UW’s favor.

“We know this year that we’re the number one seed and we’re the favorite to win the whole thing,” said Kaminsky. “We just have to go out there and play how we know how to play, and that will help us come tournament time.”

Wisconsin moves on to Saturday with a 16-point victory.

Worgull's Record: 29-2

Points off Prediction: 228 (7.4 per game)


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