Wisconsin Men’s Basketball: Michigan Summary, Part II

On the heels of securing one road victory over NebraskaNo. 21 Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team (15-7 overall, 9-6 B1G) greeted No. 3 ranked Michigan Wolverines (14-1 overall, 9-1 Big Ten) to the Kohl Center for a Valentine’s Day meeting.

The last time the two teams met, Michigan was unequivocally superior, dominates the Badgers 77-54 in mid-January. Since then, Wisconsin’s games have been pretty uneven, but they came in the winners of two of their last three games. Michigan, on the other hand, made the trip to Madison fresh out of the 23-day program shutdown to COVID-19.

After the long interval, it took Michigan some time to get adjusted, but eventually they took care of the Badgers Sunday afternoon 67-59 after a big comeback in the second half.

After some back and forth play in the first few minutes, the two teams went into the first media timeout, all tied for five. Coming out of timeout, Aleem Ford went to work and gave the Badgers a three-point lead with 11:12 left to play in the first half. The senior striker scored 11 of the first 15 points for Wisconsin and was a perfect 4-of-4 from the floor during that time.

The Badgers were able to pull a little ahead on the eight-and-a-half-minute mark behind some hot shot, but over the next five minutes, the Wisconsin were able to push their lead up to 10 points with 3:37 left in the first half.

In the final few minutes of the half, Wisconsin were able to increase their advantage and went into the break with a 39-27 lead over Michigan.

In the first five minutes out of the break, Michigan would go on an 8-1 run to pull within six points as Wisconsin started 1-of-5 from the floor.

However, rookie Jonathan Davis would make things go for the Badgers with four quick points to get the Wisconsin lead back up to seven points with 12 minutes left of the game and lower the Michigan race.

Michigan was able to narrow the deficit to three points by 8:30 to play as Wisconsin went on a three-minute scoring drought.

Over the last eight minutes, Michigan would open things up and eventually pull away from the Badgers to win eight points and a heartbreaking loss to Wisconsin.

  • D’Mitrik Trice -> 16 points (4-of-11 from the floor), five rebounds, three assists
  • Aleem Ford -> 15 points (5-from-8 from the floor), two rebounds
  • Isaiah Livers (Michigan) -> 20 points (8-of-16 from the floor), seven rebounds
  • Hunter Dickinson (Michigan) -> 11 points (3-of-9 from the floor), 15 rebounds, five blocks

Nr. 1: Energy

One of the biggest starting points for the Badgers this season has at times been a lack of energy. Opponents have been able to swallow loose balls and dictate the game all too often. The first time these two teams met was a perfect example, as Michigan’s defensive intensity and aggressiveness in offense vaulted them past the Badgers with relative ease.

In this rematch, however, it was Wisconsin who saw the breaks go their way due to improved intensity. While Michigan was still able to win some offensive rebounds, the Badgers won some 50-50 balls, which in previous games would probably have gone the other way.

Wisconsin played very improved defense and the team played aggressively. The energy and better play at the defensive end also proved to help them out at the other end of the field as Wisconsin were able to hold Michigan to their lowest scoring output in half this season while also shooting over 50% on the same time. It is a powerful recipe for success.

Michigan came out in the second half with plenty of energy and confidence to swing the game in their favor, and in the end they proved to be too good for the Badgers. Wisconsin could not transfer their defensive energy in the second half as Michigan shot 48% in the second half and over 42% from three.

Nr. 2: Hot shots

After fighting for the better half of the last month shooting the ball, the Badgers broke out of their shooting drop in a bigger way in the first half against Michigan. Everything fell for Wisconsin from three (71%), and as a team, they ended up shooting 54% off the floor overall. Both Micah Potter and Aleem Ford played well in the first half and combined to score 20 points on a flawless 8-of-8 shooting. This outburst of scoring was huge for the Badgers as it gave them a 12-point edge at the break.

The second half, however, was far from spectacular for Greg Gard’s bunch. Wisconsin got icy cold in the second half, shooting only 25% from the floor and shooting an abysmal 1-of-12 from three.

Michigan got hot in the second half, overtaking Wisconsin by 20, while shooting much better, including 11-of-14 from the free-throw line.

The fluctuation in shot production played a big role in the game, as outside of Jonathan Davis, no one could get much in violation in the second half for the Badgers.

Nr. 3: Big time failure

The big ones in Wisconsin were completely classified by Hunter Dickinson and the Michigan frontcourt.

Micah Potter had a nice stretch in the first half, but the duo Potter and Reuvers could not protect the rim and fought to keep Michigan away from the offensive glass.

While the Wolverines only surpassed the Badgers by four total, Wisconsin allowed 11 offensive rebounds, which in turn resulted in a 15-second chance point. Hunter Dickinson personally grabbed 15 boards and also added five blocks, and he was a big reason Michigan was also +10 in points in the paint.

Both standing 6-foot-10, Potter and Reuvers combined for ZERO rebounds, and were unable to hold themselves in the length of Michigan.

In a game that Wisconsin desperately needed, their two biggest big ones failed them and were again played by the opponents. The issues of rebounding and inner defense have routinely popped up for the Badgers this year, but no rebounds from the two Wisconsin majors are good enough. Especially when they combined to play 40 minutes.

Next: Wisconsin have another tough matchup as they welcome Iowa to the Kohl Center on Thursday. Tip time is set to 18:00 CST and it will be broadcast on ESPN.

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