Rushed Reactions: #12 Wisconsin 83, Minnesota 57Posted by Walker Carey on March 14th, 2014
Walker Carey is an RTC Correspondent. He filed this report after Thursday evening’s Big Ten Tournament action between Minnesota and Wisconsin in Indianapolis.
Three Key Takeaways.
- This was a one-sided thumping. Wisconsin dominated this game from the opening tip and never looked back on its way to a 26-point victory. Minnesota never led and was thrown off its rhythm all night long by the Badgers’ suffocating defensive attack. Golden Gophers guard Andre Hollins – the team’s leading scorer at 14.4 points per game – had a nightmarish night, as he finished with just eight points on 2-of-14 shooting. The Golden Gophers as a team only managed to shoot 32.8 percent from the field for the game and its 29 percent mark in the first half greatly contributed to Richard Pitino’s team falling behind early. Minnesota also experienced issues with its defense, as Wisconsin was allowed solid looks all night and shot 54.5 percent from the field for the game.
- Minnesota did not do itself any favors with the selection committee. Richard Pitino’s group was squarely on the bubble entering the game, and while a loss to a good team like Wisconsin is probably not enough to completely kill their NCAA Tournament chances, one would think a 26-point shellacking does not bode well either. An argument can certainly still be made that Minnesota belongs in the field of 68, but when the committee decides its selections, its last impression of Minnesota will be Friday night’s embarrassing defeat.
- Wisconsin has the look of a potential one-seed. Minnesota certainly deserves plenty of blame for its embarrassing loss, but it must be noted just how well Wisconsin played. The Badgers led the entire game and it never even appeared as though Minnesota had any chance. Wisconsin starting guards Josh Gasser and Traevon Jackson went scoreless for the night, but the Badgers were able to get past that due to a career performance from fellow starter Ben Brust and a 14-point performance from reserve guard Bronson Koenig. Starting big man Frank Kaminsky also struggled a bit offensively, but reserve forward Nigel Hayes contributed 15 points and six rebounds to the winning effort. Great teams find a way to keep things going when they may not get the expected output from key players and that is exactly what Wisconsin did Friday night. There is a lot of conversation nationally right now over which team will be getting the fourth #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and on Friday night, Bo Ryan‘s Badgers definitely looked like they belong in those conversations.
Player of the Game. Ben Brust, Wisconsin. The senior guard turned in a career-best performance for the Badgers with 29 points on just 15 field goal attempts. On a night where Wisconsin showed how dangerous it can be offensively, it was Brust who led that charge. While known for his offense more than his defense, Brust was a major factor in the Wisconsin defensive effort that made things difficult for Minnesota all evening.
- “As long as we get the win, that’s all that matters now in March.” – Wisconsin guard Ben Brust, commenting on how winning is all that is important in the postseason.
- “I never answer anything about seeds. Sunflower seeds, when I used to play baseball, I chewed them. That’s the only seeds I know anything about.” – Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan, refusing to talk about the possibility of Wisconsin earning a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
- “Listen, I hope we get into the NCAA Tournament. I feel that we played one of the best schedules in the country, and that’s normally what they want you to do. But that being said, whatever tournament we are in, we’re disappointed tonight, but I’m proud of how hard these guys have played this whole year.” – Minnesota coach Richard Pitino, discussing his feelings toward his team’s postseason possibilities.
Sights and Sounds. The Wisconsin/Minnesota rivalry appears to be alive and well, as both schools had many fans at Bankers Life Arena this evening. While the Badger fans had much more to be excited about, the Golden Gopher fans did not go unnoticed. There appeared to be a bit of discord between the two head coaches after the game, as Minnesota coach Richard Pitino appeared to take exception to Wisconsin reserve guard Jordan Hill draining a three-pointer with 17 seconds left and his team already up by 23. After the game, Pitino was asked if he could shed any light on whether words were exchanged between he and Badgers coach Bo Ryan; Pitino responded with a simple “no.”
What’s Next. Wisconsin advances to Saturday’s Big Ten Tournament semifinals where it will looks like it will play Michigan State. Minnesota now has to wait and see if it is selected for inclusion in the NCAA Tournament or if its next game will come in the NIT.