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Badgers Breakdown: No.16 Wisconsin vs. Michigan State

With a chance to move into a first place tie in the Big Ten with three games remaining, No.16 Wisconsin looks to beat Michigan State at the Breslin Center for the first time since 2004. We breakdown the match-up.

No.16 Wisconsin (22-6, 11-4 Big Ten) vs. Michigan State (17-11, 9-6 Big Ten) 

Date/Time – Sunday, February 26, 3 p.m. central

Arena – Breslin Center (14,797)

Television – CBS (Kevin Harlan and Dan Bonner)

Radio – Badgers Radio Network (Matt Lepay and Mike Lucas)

Series – Michigan State leads 76-64 (Michigan State leads 47-14 in East Lansing, Mich.)

Last Meeting – Michigan State won, 69-57, on February 18, 2016, in East Lansing, Mich.


3 Zak Showalter (6-3 Senior Guard, 7.7 ppg)

10 Nigel Hayes (6-8 Senior Forward, 13.4 ppg)

22 Ethan Happ (6-10 Sophomore Forward, 14.4 ppg)

24 Bronson Koenig (6-2 Senior Guard, 13.8 ppg)

30 Vitto Brown (6-8 Senior Forward, 7.2 ppg)


0 D'Mitrik Trice (6-0 Freshman Guard, 6.0 ppg)

1 Brevin Pritzl (6-3 Freshman Guard, 2.4 ppg)

21 Khalil Iverson (6-5 Sophomore Forward, 4.0 ppg)


Koenig matched his career high with 27 points, going 5-for-8 from 3-point range, in Thursday’s loss at Ohio State. Koenig (237) surpassed Ben Brust (235) for the most career 3-pointers in school history.


1 Josh Langford (6-5 Freshman Guard, 6.5 ppg)

3 Alvin Ellis (6-4 Senior Guard, 6.6 ppg)

11 Tum Tum Nairn Jr. (5-10 Junior Guard, 3.9 ppg)

22 Miles Bridges (6-7 Freshman Forward, 16.3 ppg)

44 Nick Ward (6-8 Freshman Forward, 13.1 ppg)


5 Cassius Winston (6-0 Freshman Guard, 7.0 ppg)

20 Matt McQuaid (6-4 Sophomore Guard, 5.1 ppg)

25 Kenny Goins (6-6 Sophomore Forward, 3.5 ppg)


A five-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week, Bridges has seven 20-plus point games and has scored in double figures in 18 of 21 contests, including the school’s single-game freshman scoring record with 33 points vs. Purdue. His 16.3 ppg ranks seventh in the Big Ten and his 8.3 rpg ranks fifth


COLUMBUS, Ohio - Beaten on hustle plays, the boards and practically everywhere else, No.16 Wisconsin suffered an 83-73 loss to Ohio State at Value City Arena Thursday.

Making his return to the starting lineup, Bronson Koenig scored a game-high 27 points on 9-of-15 shooting, including five 3-pointers to surpass former guard Ben Brust as the school’s all-time 3-point marksman. Outside of D’Mitrik Trice scoring 14 points in his home state, the Badgers’ frontcourt was well off target.

Ethan Happ attempted only one field goal in six first-half minutes and finished with a season-low four points. In two games against the Buckeyes, Happ scored 10 points on 5-for-15 shooting.

Ohio native Vitto Brown scored nine points but shot under 40 percent for the seventh time in the last eight games while fellow Ohioan Nigel Hayes – a week after saying he needed to be more aggressive – had seven points on just six shots and seven free throw attempts.

Wisconsin shot 43.9 percent (25 of 57) from the floor and 43.3 percent (13 of 30) from 3-point range.

Ohio State (16-13, 6-10) spent the last week stewing about letting an 11-point lead with less than six minutes left evaporate in an one-point loss. Buckeyes coach Thad Matta – who on Thursday coached more games at Ohio State (457) than any of his previous successors – challenged his team to provide complete effort for a full 40 minutes.

They did. The Buckeyes dominated the first half, holding an 18-2 advantage for points in the paint and grabbing 23 rebounds compared to Wisconsin's 12. Ohio State finished with a 22-18 edge in the paint and won the rebound battle, 38-25. 

For a team playing with a Big Ten title on the line, the Badgers led for only one minutes, 18 seconds.

Ohio State shot 50.0 percent (25 of 50) from the field and 62.5 percent (10 of 16) from 3-point range against a Badgers defense that was fourth in the nation in scoring (60.5 points per game), holding its last 16 opponents under 80 points (15 of those games under 70).

It was a complete role reversal from the team’s first meeting, as Wisconsin hung 89 points on Ohio State by hitting 12 of 22 three-pointers (54.5 percent), turned 21 offensive rebounds into 28 second-chance points and outscored the Buckeyes, 42-22, in the paint.

UW didn’t come close to sniffing any of those hustle numbers, not when letting the Buckeyes dictate the game.

Trailing by as many as 16 points in the opening period, Wisconsin cut the lead to nine on four separate occasions within the first nine minutes of the second half. The last of such occurrence happened when Happ made a layup at the 11:00 mark to make it 56-47. 

The Buckeyes then scored eight of the game's next 10 points to extend their lead to 62-47 with 9:19 left. JaQuan Lyle (17 points, 10-for-10 free throws) hit a jumper and three while Jackson knocked down a trey during the stretch. OSU led by at least 10 points the rest of the way and as many as 20 to pull off the upset. 


The Badgers have won three of the last four meetings and split two meetings last season, which each winning on its home court.

Wisconsin has not won at the Breslin Center since a 68-64 OT victory in 2004. MSU has won the last nine meetings in East Lansing. The next longest road streak is two straight at Purdue.

Hayes, Koenig and Happ are all averaging over 13 points per game in the last three meetings with the Spartans.

Since Bo Ryan took over at UW in 2001-02, the Badgers are the only Big Ten team to own a winning record against Michigan State, having gone 17-13 (.567). Illinois is second at 12-14 (.462)

Over the last 21 meetings, Michigan State has scored 70 points or more just twice. Over that span (since 2007), the Spartans are averaging just 61.0 points per game against the Badgers.

The home team has won 18 of the last 20 games played on a college campus, with the lone exceptions being MSU’s wins in Madison in 2012 and 2013.

Tom Izzo is 25-20 in his career against Wisconsin. Greg Gard is 1-1 vs. Michigan State.


EAST LANSING, Mich. – Playing its second top 10 team on the road in a week, Wisconsin never found its rhythm offensively in an ugly 69-57 defeat to No.8 Michigan State at the Breslin Center. The Spartans led wire-to-wire and by as many as 22 points to end UW’s seven game winning streak.

And while UW’s defense was marginal, it was mainly the offense that extended UW’s losing streak at the Breslin Center to nine.

Averaging 72.7 points on the winning streak, the Badgers were held to their lowest point total since Dec.29 after shooting only 33.9 percent.

Wisconsin beat Michigan State in mid-January by attacking the post and getting to the free throw line 36 times. This time the Badgers went only 11-for-17, settling for the long range jump shots that finally stopped falling. After making double-digit 3-pointers in three consecutive games, Wisconsin finished 6-for-20 from beyond the arc.

The team-wide shooting epidemic affected everybody to some degree but UW’s two leading scorers suffered the brunt of it.

Nigel Hayes – averaging 20.4 points per game on UW’s seven game winning streak – missed 12 of his 13 shots and finished with a season-low five points after getting hounded all night by the 6-10 Deyonte Davis and his cohorts.

Bronson Koenig – a player Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo dubbed “the Spartan killer” after his career-high 27 points Jan.17 – finished with 12. He scored UW’s first points, attempted only two more shots in the first half and didn’t attempt his first shot in the second half until there was 6:22 remaining.

Ethan Happ scored a team-high 18 points but became a footnote to Michigan State senior Denzel Valentine. Averaging 22.9 points, 7.8 rebounds and 7.9 assists in the last eight contests, Valentine finished with 24 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds.

Valentine is the only Big Ten player in the last 20 years to score at least 20 points with 10 assists in three straight games. Bryn Forbes added 17 points (4-for-8 from 3-point range) to help lead Michigan State (22-5, 9-5) to its sixth win in the last seven games.

Wisconsin went scoreless for 6:21 from the 18:55 mark to 12:34 in the first half, allowing the Spartans to jump out to a 14-3 lead and never looked back. A 24-10 run over an 11-minutes stretch in the second half sealed things for Michigan State, which led by as many as 22 in the final half.


Even with a recent dip in offensive numbers, Wisconsin is enjoying one of its better scoring seasons in years. The Badgers are averaging 73.1 ppg, which would be the team's second-highest scoring average in over 20 years, trailing only the 2014-15 team that averaged 73.5 ppg.

With 1,714 career points, Hayes ranks sixth on Wisconsin’s all-time scoring list. He is 13 points away from passing Rick Olson (1983-86) to crack the Badgers' all-time top five.

Trice ranks sixth in the Big Ten shooting 44.6 percent (29-65) from 3-point range on the season. Tim Locum holds UW's freshman record for 3-point field goal percentage, shooting 44.1% (41-93) from deep in 1988.

Through 15 Big Ten games, the Badgers are averaging 10.7 turnovers per game.


Michigan State is 17-4 on Senior Day under Tom Izzo.

Michigan State ranks third in the Big Ten in field-goal percentage (47.6) and second in 3-point field-goal percentage (38.1). The Spartans are even better in conference games, shooting 47.7 from the field to lead the Big Ten and 38.7 from 3-point range to rank third.

Eight healthy Spartans average more than 17 minutes per game, while 10 average more than eight minutes per game (Does not include Eron Harris who is out for the year with a knee injury). Seven different players have led Michigan State in scoring in a single game.

In Big Ten play, MSU is averaging 14.5 turnovers (13.6 in victory, 16.0 in defeat). MSU is 7-1 when having fewer turnovers than its opponent, and 10-0 when it has an advantage in points off turnovers.


Two days after arguably its worst performance of the season, Wisconsin has been given a second chance.

Falling a game behind Purdue after a lackluster Thursday showing in Columbus, Wisconsin saw the Boilermakers drop Saturday’s road test at Michigan to open the door again. If the Badgers win their final three games, the seniors can claim the Big Ten title it’s so desperately wanted.

To do that, UW needs to win a place where it hasn’t won in 13 years.

Wisconsin has come close to winning at the Breslin Center but have seen winning streaks end and losing streaks continue in a building where Izzo has an 87.6 percent winning percentage. The same is true this year.

Even though the Spartans aren’t a veteran group, and got even younger when senior Eron Harris (the team’s leading 3-point shooter) because the third senior to be lost for the season with a knee injury, they rebounded in their first game without him by thrashing Nebraska, 88-72, Thursday night.

MSU’s four freshmen combined for 64 of the team’s 88 points. Following Bridges and Ward’s 20 points, Joshua Langford added a season-high 17, while Cassius Winston finished with seven points, eight assists and no turnovers. It was the most points the freshmen have combined for in a single game this season.

“I feel like everyone understood the magnitude of this game coming in,” Langford said. “We knew we needed this win. When our back is against the wall, at Michigan State we fight. We have a team that believes in toughness, and always fighting through adversity. So today, we really just wanted to come out and try to give everything we had, and leave it all on the court.”

The 49 first-half points were the most scored by Michigan State this season, and the Spartans drew 26 personal fouls that lead to a season-high 26 made free throws for the Spartans

“I do think they responded,” Izzo said of the freshmen. “I just think they have to learn how to play both ends of the court. For the last two games, we are fouling too much. We have to do a better job with that.

“Are the freshmen going to take over? I mean Nick and Miles have been fairly consistent. ... They definitely looked more aggressive; they looked more comfortable. That part of it was great.”

The aggressive nature of Bridges and Ward has been a huge help defensively. Holding teams to 40.7 percent shooting this season. Michigan State has held 15 opponents under 40 percent and are holding Big Ten opponents to a 42.3 field-goal percentage. In Big Ten victories, Spartans are holding opponents to 37.2, compared to 50.3 in defeat.

Although the group is young, the Spartans still want to push the ball in transition, play physical and can hit the big shot on the perimeter. It’s allowed them to gloss over some of their other deficiencies to build a resume that could get them in the N.C.A.A. tournament for a 20th straight year. Beating Wisconsin would add another notch to the belt.

There are currently six teams in the Big Ten with a league record above .500. The Badgers are 3-3 against those teams and 1-2 on the road. The Badgers had a wake-up call with two losses a little more than a week ago and responded with a home win against Maryland. How will they respond to another one from Thursday? The fact that this veteran teams needs continuous wake-up calls is disconcerting.

Izzo dominated on senior day and Wisconsin at home. That’s a bad recipe for this hard-to-figure-out Badgers team. Spartans by nine.

Worgull's Record: 24-4

Points off Prediction: 246 (8.8 per game)

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