By: RICKY LINDSAY, STAFF REPORTER
The Wolverines entered the second round of the Big Ten tournament against Wisconsin looking to win two consecutive games in the tournament for the first time since 1998, the first year of its existence. A dominant first half followed by a struggling second half ended those hopes, as Wisconsin rallied to beat Michigan 68-59.
Michigan raced out to a ten point lead in the first half after playing lock-down defense against the Badgers. Wisconsin’s shooting was ice cold in the first half, but the Wolverines couldn’t take advantage, as they carried a 20-17 lead into halftime.
The second half began and Wisconsin found their stroke, knocking down six three pointers in 20 minutes. Michigan attempted to make a comeback of their own, but the Wolverines couldn’t slow the Badgers shooters.
Wisconsin led the Wolverines with 15 minutes remaining in the second half and never look back, as the Badgers took advantage of Michigan’s struggles.
The Wolverines cut the lead to two with three minutes remaining in the game, but the Badgers answered with a five point run to put the game out of Michigan’s reach. Clock control and free throws helped Wisconsin silence the Wolverines to move on to the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament.
Sophomore point guard Trey Burke led the Wolverines after being named Big Ten player of the year. Burke finished with a team high 19 points and all of Michigan’s seven assists. He also finished every Big Ten game with at least 15 points, the only player to do so this season.
Junior guard Tim Hardaway Jr fell one rebound short of a double-double, finishing with 14 points and nine rebounds.
The Badgers were led by guards Ben Brust and Traevon Jackson. Brust, a junior, finished with 14 points and eight rebounds, while Jackson, the sophomore, had 16 points and three assists.
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The Wolverines enter the NCAA tournament with a 26-7 record. The Wolverines come into the tournament as a four seed, set to face the South Dakota State Jackrabbits (25-9). The Jackrabbits won the Summit League Championship, earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. They will square off on Thursday, March 21 at 7:15pm at the Palace of Auburn Hills.