Preview: Men's basketball looks to beat familiar Badgers
Who: Wisconsin Badgers (15-17, 7-11 Big Ten)
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York City
TV/Radio: BTN/Spartan Sports Network
NEW YORK — The Wisconsin Badgers (15-17, 8-11 Big Ten) were in the way of men's basketball's quest for its first outright Big Ten championship since 2009 this past Sunday.
The Badgers fought behind guard Brad Davison's 30 points, but fell short on their senior night against the Spartans, 68-63.
Friday, the freshman and his Wisconsin team will have a chance to take revenge on the Spartans in the third round of the Big Ten Tournament in Madison Square Garden.
"I'm almost just laser focused," freshman forward Jaren Jackson Jr. said after practice Wednesday. "I'm not thinking about anything else other than the game and putting my all into everything, which we've done all season. It's ramped up because it's win or go home."
MSU enters Friday with a 12-game winning streak and after the team swept the Badgers in the regular season series. Wisconsin is coming off 59-54 win over Maryland in the second round, with four Badgers scoring double-digit points. Junior forward Ethan Happ led the way with 14 points, seven rebounds, two blocks and two steals.
Happ also leads the team in points, rebound and assists, averaging 17.9 points per game, 8.2 rebounds per game and 3.8 assists per game. The other lone Badger who averages double-digit points is Davison with 12.1 points per game.
On the contrary, head coach Tom Izzo's starting five all average double-digit points. His team also is the top scoring team in the Big Ten, averaging 82.1 points per game, while allowing teams to shoot only 36.1 percent from floor. MSU also leads the Big Ten in rebounds per game with 41.1, assists with 19.9 and blocked shots with 7.7.
One of those double-digit scorers is point guard Cassius Winston. The sophomore is third on the team in scoring with 12.5 points per game, first in the NCAA in 3-point shooting percentage with 56.5 percent and first in the Big Ten in assists with 6.9.
The sophomore has also scored double-digit points in his last five games and hit clutch 3-pointers against Northwestern on Feb. 17 and the Badgers.
He said hitting those clutch shots is a result of his desire to become more of a leader as the season has gone on.
"I learn everyday from 'Tum Tum' (Lourawls 'Tum Tum' Nairn Jr.), from coach, just how to be a leader, how to help this team out," Winston said. "And I've been doing a lot better lately, you know, being vocal in the huddle."
Izzo also said his team is taking his scouting reports of zones, themes and other tendencies on other teams and implementing them into possible matchups, including Wisconsin.
"We're going to do a great job of preparing for that, so no matter who you play, when we play or what we play, we're going to try and do our best to be prepared for that," Izzo said.
Michael Duke MSU 64 Wisconsin 61
Jonathan LeBlanc MSU 65 Wisconsin 58