A couple days before Wisconsin was set to battle with Rutgers inside the Kohl Center, Micah Potter was among the players who spoke to reporters and made it clear just how much he had been looking forward to the rematch. The second meeting with Rutgers marked the first game Potter and the Badgers would meet an opponent where he wasn’t available the first time around.
He had been specifically looking forward to Rutgers in order to help the team out avoid a crushing Big Ten loss.
“I’m really looking forward to it. Especially with where we are in the rankings in the Big Ten. It’s a big one,” Potter said back in late February. “Every game going forward is a big one for us. Still looking to try to win a Big Ten championship.”
Potter went on a tangent there after over the implications of the loss from early December and how much it could have meant for UW.
“It’s so tough for a team as physical and big as strong as Rutgers, for any big to go in there and play by himself,” Potter said. “Putting myself in a position to remove maybe three or four of the offensive rebounds, just by getting a body or getting the rebound myself or whatever because it was such a close game. Getting Nate a break so he can stay fresh because efficiency goes way down when you’re tired.”
“It was frustrating to be a part of because I know how much I could have helped with that game. If we win that game, we are in a different position right now. We’re tied for second right now and we would be two and half games behind Maryland and if we are tied with Maryland, we have the head to head win so it’s just ugh.”
Potter would make his presence felt in the Sunday afternoon test with Rutgers on his way to 18 points and nine rebounds. In the final test to capturing a share of the Big Ten title, Potter would once make his presence felt against a team he couldn’t suit up for the first time around.
The Badgers completed their eight game winning streak with a win over Indiana at Assembly Hall. Potter showed up in the biggest way possible in the final minutes.
After picking up his fourth foul with 8:15 to go, head coach Greg Gard sat Potter for a grand total of 1:23 of game time. With 6:52 to go, the plan was to play him the rest of the way and the junior forward delivered.
Over the final minutes, he contributed three points, five rebounds, two of which were offensive rebounds which led to six huge points, an assist and a steal.
The score was 44-51 with a little under seven minutes to go. With Potter back in the game, Indiana would not score until there were just 55 ticks of the clock left and a Badgers 16-5 run sealed the win and ultimately a share of the Big Ten championship.
Potter transferred to Wisconsin in December 2018 but wouldn’t be able to suit up for UW until December 21st, 2019 against UW-Milwaukee after having sat out three semesters. The return came after the Badgers had started a mere 5-5 overall and 1-1 in the Big Ten. Since then, Wisconsin is 16-5. The 16-5 record included a run where the Badgers saw the departure of Kobe King, suspension of Brad Davison and the resignation of strength and conditioning coach Erik Helland who had been with the program for seven years.
“We’ve gone through a lot and for us to be able to stick together, the way that we have and to earn this thing, I couldn’t be happier, I couldn’t be more proud of this team,” Potter said. “I told the coaches, I wanted to come here and win a Big Ten championship. That’s what I wanted to do when I came to Wisconsin. The wait was tough.”
The wait for a Big Ten championship was excruciatingly long for the Ohio native who had failed to win one at Ohio State, but the wait for Potter along with what this year’s team has had to go through has made the championship all the more sweet.
“Ever since I got to college, whether it be Ohio State or here, I wanted to win a Big Ten championship. It didn’t happen until now but I am so happy right now and I couldn’t more proud of our team.”
“Holding this trophy. I can’t even describe the feeling,” Potter added. “If they’re going to let me, I’m going to take it wherever I go.”