The Badgers got a much needed quality road win last night over Michigan on a last second banked in three from Freshman Josh Gasser, 53-52. The win gives the NCAA Tournament selection committee one less reason to drop the Badgers a seed or two come tournament time. At this time of year bad losses seem to hurt a lot more than good wins help when it comes to teams that are a lock to get in like Wisconsin. I am not sure if this would have been qualified as a bad loss but it would have supplied further proof that Wisconsin can only beat good teams at home. This win will at least help dispel that thought a little bit.
The game was back and forth throughout the second half with neither team able to pull away from the other. Neither team could build more than a three point lead for the entire half. This felt like a tournament game and in many ways was for Michigan. Wisconsin would make a couple of plays to grab a small lead, then Michigan would come right back at them to get the lead back. The game ended with Michigan holding a two point lead when Josh Gasser let go of a three when the buzzer sounded, BANK, and in for the win for Wisconsin. It was a very exciting ending.
End Of Game
Wisconsin was down two with under 40 seconds left, Michigan ball, after Jordan Taylor missed a tough runner to tie it up. This is where Wisconsin did something very smart, very un-SEC-like or un-Georgia Tech-like. The Badgers could have let the possession run down and hope for a stop but if they did they were certain to lose. Wisconsin had five team fouls, Michigan only had two. If Wisconsin had waited it out they would have gotten the ball back with five seconds and the entire court to go with Michigan able to foul them all the way down the court.
Instead Wisconsin chose to foul twice to get Michigan into the one and one. It was the only chance Wisconsin had to win the game. The break of the game was Michigan missing the front end of the one and one. Michigan players and fans can point to the loss being based on luck due to the banked in three by Gasser but they are missing the true cause of the loss. When you play good teams you have to beat them. If Michigan makes both free throws combined with having all of the fouls yet to give, GAME OVER. Wisconsin would not have had a chance to get two possessions. Even if they only made one free throw they could have fouled all the way to the bonus since they would have been up three points. You have to beat good teams and cannot hope they lose the game.
When Wisconsin did get the ball back Michigan used up four of their fouls leaving just over five seconds on the clock. Michigan executed this very well as they were able to milk a few seconds each time before fouling. We could also see how risky this could have been as a couple of times Taylor was ready for the foul and fired up a shot just after contact, a weak reffing crew would have possibly called a shooting foul which would have resulted in three free throws for the win.
As it stood, Wisconsin had the ball with just over five seconds, inbounded to Taylor who dribbled to the left, got doubled, found Gasser, and Gasser banked in the three. It was a great play by Taylor since he was too far out of range to force the three. When he recognized he was doubled he looked for an open guy and at the last second found an open Gasser. The shot may not have been a thing of beauty but the result was as was the pass by Taylor.
Player Of The Game
Hard not to go with Jordan Taylor, 20 points, 4 rebs, 5 assists, 1 turnover. He was the leading scorer and seemingly the only player to touch the ball in the stretched out last possession. He may have only had five assists but the last one led to the game winner. Taylor either scored or assisted on over half of the Badger points, not a bad game.
Where’s The Bench?
The bench scored zero points. ZERO! The bench combined for five fouls out of fifteen, six missed shots, four rebounds and one assist. It is safe to say we need a little more from the bench.
Next Game: Northwestern, 6pm Sunday.