The Wisconsin Badgers have finished top-four in the Big Ten for the 15th straight season after a 62-49 win over Minnesota on Wednesday night. Greg Gard’s team won its 12th game in the last 13 contests, winning 20 games for the 10th straight season.

Wisconsin dominated the first half, scoring on 10 straight possessions at one point. The Badgers had a 23-7 run right around that stretch, and the Badgers went into halftime up 40-24. Bronson Koenig had 12 of his 14 points and 5 of his 6 assists in the first half, and the Badgers even outscored Minnesota 25-13 when Ethan Happ sat with two fouls at 11:05. The Badgers shot 55% in the first half to the Gophers’ 30%, and Minnesota had 6 field goals and 7 turnovers.

Nigel Hayes, who only had 6 points, picked up his third foul 39 seconds into the second half, leading to his benching for a good chunk of the second half. Minnesota went on an 11-1 run over seven minutes to get back into the game until 6:54 when Ethan Happ, 12 points and 10 rebounds (9th double-double of the season), hit a free throw. Wisconsin woke up after that on offense, as their defense never really gave in.

Vitto Brown played another solid game on offense, scoring 12 points and rebounding 6 rebounds. His defense was much better tonight, as he protected the paint well and did not get in foul trouble. 49 points from the Gophers tied Texas A&M Corpus-Christi’s 49 points on December 15th for the lowest number of points scored against the Badgers this season.

Minnesota head coach Richard Pitino suspended players Nate Mason, Kevin Dorsey, and Dupree McBrayer for the rest of the season on Tuesday. The Gophers were short-handed, and it showed, as both Mason and McBrager were starters.

Even with the win, the Badgers could finish with as low as #7 seed in the Big Ten Tournament. Right now, the team is slated as the #3 seed for the tournament. Regardless, Wisconsin will be poised to beat Purdue on Sunday, their last game of the regular season, to claim a double-bye until Friday (tournament starts on Wednesday).

Wisconsin will play on the road in that game against Purdue at 6:30 PM on Sunday night.


Photo courtesy of Jim Mone, Associated Press.