Must win games Wisconsin needs to stay in tournament contention

Conference Tournaments are almost here and teams have only a few more chances to make thier case for the NCAA Tournament.

Feb 20, 2024; Madison, Wisconsin, USA;  Wisconsin Badgers guard Chucky Hepburn (23) celebrates his made shot.
Feb 20, 2024; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers guard Chucky Hepburn (23) celebrates his made shot. / Kayla Wolf-USA TODAY Sports

The college basketball regular season is winding down and the NCAA Tournament picture is beginning to take form. There are teams that know at this point in the season they are a lock for the tournament, they just need a location and an opponent. Then there are teams that are hopeful to make it in, but still have work to do.

I would say Wisconsin is somehow in the middle of those two options. With an 18-9 record and a 10-6 conference record, it seems that Wisconsin should be in the tournament, but if they slide in these last four games, those hopes could dwindle.

So let's look at the Badger's remaining four games and see which ones are a must-win to stay in contention for the NCAA Tournament.

  • Tuesday, February 27 at Indiana 6:00 p.m. CT
  • Saturday, March 2, vs No. 12 Illinois Noon CT
  • Thursday, March 7 vs. Rutgers 6:00 p.m. CT
  • Sunday, March 10 at No. 3 Purdue 11:30 a.m. CT

Two of these final four games are against teams that have no shot to make the NCAA Tournament unless they win the Big 10 Tournament. Wisconsin has to beat Indiana and Rutgers to stay in contention, which would give them 12 conference wins and help secure their spot as a middle seed like No. 8 or No. 7.

If Wisconsin wants to ensure that they make the tournament, they need to take down either Illinois or Purdue. I think Illinois is the more likely opponent to take down because they will be playing them at home with Badger Nation behind them.

Looking at Wisconsin's home and away record, the Badgers are 13-2 at home and 3-7 away. Their only home losses have come from No. 9 Tennessee at the beginning of the season and then 2 Purdue during conference play. Wisconson has a real chance to take down Illinois and by winning three of their last four games, the Badgers can secure their spot in the big dance.

They can only strengthen their bid in the Big 10 Tournament as well. If the season ended today, Wisconsin would be the fourth seed earning the last double-bye. The Badgers can not afford to drop below the four seeds if they want to ensure a deep tournament run in the Big 10.