Breakdown: No.4 Purdue vs. No.1 Wisconsin

After one physical Big Ten game in the quarterfinals, top-seeded Wisconsin is expecting another in the semifinal against fourth-seeded Purdue. BadgerNation breaks down today's matchup.

No.4 Purdue (21-11, 12-6 Big Ten) vs. No.1 Wisconsin (29-3, 16-2 Big Ten)

Date/Time -Saturday, March 14, 12 p.m. Central

Arena –United Center (20,917)

Television -CBS (Jim Nantz, Bill Raftery, Grant Hill, Tracy Wolfson)

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

Series – Purdue leads 104-69 (Wisconsin leads 2-0 on neutral courts)

Last Meeting – Wisconsin won, 62-55, on January 7, 2015 in Madison

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, 7.9 ppg)

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

Off the Bench

3 Zak Showalter (6-2 Sophomore Guard, 2.0 ppg)

13 Duje Dukan (6-10 Senior Forward, 4.8 ppg)

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

Purdue Probable Starters

0 Jon Octeus (6-4 Senior Guard, 9.6 ppg)

12 Vince Edwards (6-7 Freshman Forward, 8.7 ppg)

20 A.J. Hammons (7-0 Junior Center, 11.8 ppg)

31 Dakota Mathias (6-4 Freshman Guard, 4.8 ppg)

35 Rapheal Davis (6-5, Junior Guard, 11.0 ppg)

Off the Bench

1 Bryson Scott (6-1 Sophomore Guard, 3.8 ppg)

3 P.J. Thompson (5-10 Freshman Guard, 2.3 ppg)

5 Basil Smotherman (6-6 Sophomore Forward, 2.8 ppg)

21 Kendall Stephens (6-6 Sophomore Guard, 8.8 ppg)

44 Isaac Haas (7-2 Freshman Center, 7.8 ppg)

Last Meeting

MADISON - The shots weren’t falling with the same consistency the University of Wisconsin had enjoyed over its first two conference games, but senior Josh Gasser wasn’t worried.

With the way the Badgers were connecting from the free throw line, Wisconsin’s lead wasn’t going anywhere.

The Badgers’ shooting finally cooled after five straight halves shooting over 50 percent from the floor, but fourth-ranked Wisconsin grinded out a 62-55 victory over Purdue by hitting its stride from the free throw line.

Improving to 3-0 in Big Ten play for the third straight year, Wisconsin (15-1, 3-0) went 25-for-31 from the free throw line, including 17-for-21 in the second half, and had three players – Frank Kaminsky (21), Gasser (15) and Traevon Jackson (13) – score in double figures because of it.

After center Isaac Haas scored two of Purdue’s 38 points in the paint, cutting the UW lead to 49-47 with 5:22 remaining, Wisconsin went to work at the free throw line. Over the next four minutes and change, Wisconsin scored 13 points on nine possessions, nine of which came on 10 attempts from the free throw line.

The Badgers didn’t waste any bonus situations and didn’t miss a pair of free throw until Jackson had two rim out with six seconds remaining and the result already decided.

“It was good to grind out a win like this,” said Gasser. “Low scoring, we had to fight through some adversity, stay mentally tough, that’s what we needed.”

The Boilermakers didn’t have the same such luck from the free throw line, as Purdue only went 3-for-7 (season lows in both categories). This season the Badgers have made 47 more free throws than their opponents have attempted.

“The game was won and lost at the free throw line,” said Painter. “We had to be able to get to the free throw line and we didn’t.”

All five Wisconsin starters shot above 60 percent from the free throw line and four were above 75 percent, including Kaminsky. Under the weather and having to deal with a pair of 7-footers that weight over 260 pounds each, Kaminsky’s game-high in points was a product of going 11-for-14 from the free throw line.

-Benjamin Worgull,

Last Time Out

CHICAGO - Junior Sam Dekker led Wisconsin with 17 points while senior Frank Kaminsky (16 points, 12 rebounds) and sophomores Bronson Koenig (12 points) and Nigel Hayes (11) all played critical roles and provided a nice lift in No.6 Wisconsin’s gritty 71-60 victory over Michigan Friday afternoon.

“We get to play another 40 minutes down here in Chicago in a great venue,” said UW coach Bo Ryan, “and your supporters that bought the tickets, they get to be here – that’s pretty exciting.”

The Badgers also got eight points off the bench from Dukan in the second half, going 3-for-5 from the floor and hit a pair of timely 3-pointers – one coming after Michigan took a 3-point lead and another after the Wolverines tied the game for 44.

A five-point overtime win in Ann Arbor in the team’s only regular season meeting, Wisconsin didn’t fare much better against a Michigan team associate head coach Greg Gard described as one with “nothing to lose.”

“They are free and loose out there,” said Gard. “We were expected to be in this position. We didn’t play that exceptionally well for most of that 40 minutes, but found a way to get it done and hopefully move on to better things tomorrow.”

Wisconsin – the heavy tournament favorites – was stagnate on offense during stretches and inconsistent on defense, a reason Michigan shot 51.9 percent, saw Wisconsin miss eight straight 3-pointers at one point and led the Wolverines smelling upset after leading by as many as nine points in the first half.

It took time for the pro-Wisconsin crowd to finally get something to cheer about. Shooting in the mid-30s through long stretches of the first half, Wisconsin finally figured it out with an 18-4 run to close the half, going 7-for-9 from the floor while holding the Wolverines scoreless for the final 3:35.

Wisconsin’s frontcourt scored the first 12 points on the comeback and Koenig buried 3-pointers on consecutive possessions, showing how quickly Wisconsin can make things turn in its favor.

Going against a four-guard starting lineup, Wisconsin’s three 6-9+ forwards – Dekker, Hayes and Kaminsky – pummeled the interior of the Wolverines’ defense to the tune of 36 points in the paint and a +15 edge on the glass.

The trio finished with 34 points on 17-for-33 (51.5 percent) and had 27 rebounds.

Even with the edge inside, it was a grind, a two possession game for a total of 16 minutes, 8 seconds of the second half that wasn’t decided until Michigan went cold for the final 4:05, making just two baskets down the stretch.

- Benjamin Worgull,

Series Notes

UW has won four of the last five meetings including a season sweep a year ago.

Since Bo Ryan arrived in Madison, UW leads the series 11-10.

Purdue is 8-7 under Matt Painter against Wisconsin, the only Big Ten team to have a winning record against Ryan.

The two teams have met only once in the Big Ten tournament – a 78-63 Wisconsin victory in the 2000 semifinals.

Wisconsin Notes

Wisconsin is now 19-15 in the Big Ten tournament.

Dekker finished the Michigan game with a career high six assists and three steals. Dekker has scored in double figures in 19 of the last 22 games. With six rebounds, Dekker has posted at least five rebounds in 21 of the last 25 games.

Kaminsky recorded his 11th double-double of the season, finishing with 16 points and 12 rebounds.

The Badgers trailed at the first media timeout for the first time since playing Nebraska on Jan.15, breaking a 13-game streak.

Wisconsin committed just three personal fouls on the game, a season low for the Badgers. This is the second time this season the Badgers haven’t allowed a point the free throw line.

Purdue Notes

The Boilermakers are 10-16 overall in Big Ten Tournament games and 5-6 in the quarterfinals. Friday’s win was just the fifth game the Boilermakers have won at the United Center (5-8) and first win as a No. 4 seed (1-1).

Sixteen of Purdue’s 19 Big Ten matchups have been decided by 10 or fewer points, including 10 of the last 11 games (7-3 record).

All 10 of its games against Big Ten opponents away from Mackey Arena were decided by single-digits (5-5 record).

Purdue is now 7-2 record when trailing at halftime.

Hammons and Davis combined for 36 points, a season-high 23 for Hammons and 13 for Davis. When Davis and Hammons each reach double-figures, Purdue is 12-2.


One look at the final scores from Wisconsin’s games this season shows the dominance from a veteran roster who plays really well together. Of Wisconsin’s 29 wins, 24 have come from double digits, including 12 of 16 Big Ten regular season wins.

The Badgers’ latest triumph – a 71-60 victory over Michigan in the conference tournament quarterfinals - falls into that category, even though those who played in it and watched it know better.

Wisconsin trailed by as many as nine in the first half, didn’t play anywhere close to its best brand of basketball and led by two possessions for less than four minutes of game time. And it’s exactly what Wisconsin needed.

“We’ve got a veteran group from last year’s run, so we understand what it’s all about,” said Gasser. “It’s a brand new season and everything gets notched up a little bit … Anytime we’re in a grind-it-out game where you have got to play a full 40 minutes in order to come out with a win, in really desperation time, is great. Everything we’ve done in the past doesn’t matter for this weekend.”

When Wisconsin clamped down on Michigan late in the second half, it was a result of the Badgers becoming more aggressive, fighting off screens and kept pressure on the perimeter with a smaller lineup.

That sense of urgency was missing through long stretches of the game, giving Wisconsin a gentle reminder of what can happen this time of year.

“We let them get close, and I know we can’t do that going forward,” said Kaminsky, who acknowledged that his 16 points and 12 rebounds against Michigan was a performance that could have been better. “Everybody’s got to pick up their level of play if we want to keep going … To be able to make (tournament) runs, everybody has got to be playing their best basketball.”

From one grinding game in the quarterfinals to another in the semifinals, Wisconsin will need a solid effort against Purdue. The Boilermakers frustrated Wisconsin during a seven-point loss in Madison in January, disrupting UW’s offensive rhythm and scoring 38 of their 55 points in the paint.

In Purdue’s quarterfinal victory over Penn State, that post presence was still a big factor in its success, scoring 20 points in the paint, grabbing 41 rebounds and registering seven blocks. Hammons recorded at least four blocks for the 12th time this season to go along with his 23 points on 70 percent shooting, 9 rebounds and one turnover.

Purdue led the league in field goal percentage defense (.393), 17 percentage points ahead of second-place Iowa (.410), for the first time in Matt Painter’s tenure and just the fourth time since 1977-78. It’s a big reason why both Davis and Hammons made the conference’s All-Defensive Team.

“I thought Purdue played us really well at our place,” said associate head coach Greg Gard. “Matt’s done a great job with that group this year. Purdue has Hammons and Haas inside and what they do on the perimeter is well known.”

What Wisconsin does well is also pretty well known. In the team’s lone regular season meeting, Kaminsky had 21 points, Josh Gasser had 15 and UW hit 25 of 31 free-throw attempts compared to only 3 of 7 for Purdue. The Badgers are big, long, athletic and are a matchup nightmare.

“I think facing Wisconsin on any rest is a difficult task; I don't care if you have two weeks,” said Painter. “I think what we learned is the same thing we knew before. They're really, really talented. They can hurt you in a lot of ways. They have good size with versatility that can drive the basketball, they can post. They're probably the best team in the country in isolations and making decisions out of their isolations.

“(Ryan) doesn't get the credit that he deserves in terms of what they're actually doing out there. Everybody just thinks it's a swing offense and it's a system, but those guys are in isolations 75 percent of the time. And then however you choose to defend those, they've seen it all, and they're great passers. And any time you have size that can dribble, pass and shoot and share the basketball and you throw a lot of skill around it, you're going to be dangerous to play against.

“They have an explosion to them now with this group of guys that they haven't had before. They had a guy before that could go make plays. Now they've got a lot of guys that can go make plays, so it's a different it's not a traditional the traditional Wisconsin team is still really tough to go against.”

Much like the Michigan-Wisconsin game, expect this to be an old-fashioned Big Ten affair. Although Purdue matches up well and provides a stern defensive test, Wisconsin’s talent should supersede that. Badgers play for another Big Ten title Sunday following an 8-point win.

Worgull's Record: 30-2

Points off Prediction: 233 (7.3 per game)

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