The Wisconsin Badgers welcomed the Michigan Wolverines to the Kohl Center on Sunday, and they welcomed them with open arms—Michigan came out firing as if they were in the comfort of the Crisler Center. They opened the game on a 15-2 run and shot 57.1% from three in the first half.
Looking to close the gap, Wisconsin looked to Ethan Happ, who scored the team’s next seven points, but they couldn’t keep up with the hot shooting of Michigan.
Happ led the Badgers with 29 points and fans were surely eager to see Brevin Pritzl put the ball in the basket after going 0-11 in his last outing at the Kohl Center. There was even a Van Vliet sighting, making a quick three but finding his way back to the bench shortly after.
The Badger’s cold shooting spells and inability to defend like years’ past has been a glaring weakness this year, and it continued in the first half. With the lead down to 15 after a Pritzl three, Wisconsin would go scoreless for the remaining 4:23 of the half. Michigan shot 65.4% from the field to Wisconsin’s 36% as the Badgers found themselves down 44-22 at the break.
The second half brought more of the same until a Nate Reuvers jumper sent the Badgers on an 10-0 that gave this team life, and we saw flashes of what we thought this team could be this season—they outscored Michigan 50-39 in the second half, but every time they pulled within striking distance, the Wolverines got a big bucket, and in the end, a first-half deficit was too much to overcome.
The announcers brought up the key to this team—they pointed out the fact that when Ethan Happ has the ball down low, the rest of the team stands around the arc—no cutting, very little movement. Happ leads this team in assists, and is looking to find open teammates when the defense collapses. And when he does find the open man, he isn’t passing to the talent he was the past few seasons. This team is young and should continue to improve through experience, but chalk this one up as another tough loss for the Badgers.
Michigan: The Wolverines return home Wednesday to take on the Iowa Hawkeyes
Wisconsin: Purdue comes to town as the Badgers will retire Frank Kaminsky’s jersey at halftime.