No. 24 Wisconsin is playing as well as any Big Ten team down the stretch this season.
As a result, the surging Badgers (20-6, 13-6 Big Ten) can clinch at least a share of the conference title with a win at Indiana on Saturday afternoon.
Wisconsin picked up its seventh straight win on Wednesday, as forward Nate Reuvers (11 points) helped lead the Badgers to a 63-48 home win over Northwestern to move into a tie with Michigan State and Maryland for first place in the conference.
With the win, Wisconsin also clinched its 16th 20-win season in the last 18 seasons.
“Now we get ready to head to Bloomington,” Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said. “Who would have thought a few months ago we’d have a chance to play for a Big Ten championship? I know they’re excited about it.”
The 3-point line has been critical to Wisconsin’s success during its current seven-game win streak. The Badgers have made 77 3-pointers during the seven-game stretch, while holding opponents to just 35 3-pointers.
Indiana (19-11, 9-10 Big Ten) snapped a two-game losing streak with a 72-67 home win over Minnesota on Wednesday night. All five starters scored in double figures in the win, led by freshman forward Trayce Jackson-Davis, who had 18 points and 9 rebounds despite playing through a foot sprain.
“At home we were able to hold serve here the first part of the week,” Indiana coach Archie Miller said. “Did a really good job and had a lot of guys step up and play well.”
The Hoosiers have done a good job defending Assembly Hall this season, going 15-3 at home with wins over ranked teams Florida State, Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan State and Iowa. IU is vying to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2016.
“We don’t really focus on it,” IU senior point guard Rob Phinisee said. “We focus on day by day, winning the practice. Really we just want to tomorrow get after it in practice and do what we can so we can beat Wisconsin.”
Before the game, IU will recognize its two seniors on Senior Day, guard Devonte Green and forward De’Ron Davis. The 6-foot-4 Green has raised his level of play during IU’s late-season push, averaging 11.6 points and 2.1 assists over his last seven games.
Wisconsin won the first meeting between the two schools, beating the Hoosiers 84-64 in Madison, Wis., on Dec. 7, but both teams have evolved since then. The Hoosiers have become more connected defensively since December, holding teams to an average of 65.4 points over their last five games. Phinisee, who had 11 points and five assists in IU’s win over Minnesota on Wednesday night, sat out the first game with Wisconsin with an abdominal injury.
“We’re not done yet,” Wisconsin junior point guard D’Mitrik Trice said. “We’ve got one more to go, and it’s going to be a tough game. We’re tied for first, it’s a great feeling, but we’ve got to get back to the drawing board. There are still a lot of things that we can clean up.”
–Field Level Media