After 29 games, the Wisconsin Badgers have finally picked up that signature win they were looking for.
Better late than never as Jordan Taylor and Jared Berggren’s combined 37 points helped the Badgers upset the #8 Ohio State Buckeyes by the score of 63-60.
With the loss, the Michigan State Spartans clinch at least a share of the Big Ten Title and Ohio State’s (23-6, 11-5) chances at a number one seed are now dashed. Meanwhile, the Badgers (21-8, 10-6) have most certainly enhanced their resume for the big dance.
“We’ve played two very good teams. Today, we needed to have the ability to sustain what we had going, which we didn’t do. We didn’t get the execution or the defensive stops that we needed,” Ohio State coach Thad Matta said of the loss.
What It Means: Seeing the Badgers respond to an embarrassing loss in Iowa City with an upset of the Buckeyes is encouraging for Bo Ryan and a relatively young Badgers team.
Bo Ryan on today’s game:
“You always measure people by what it takes to discourage them, if you get discouraged and get frustrated it doesn’t help in the game of basketball. Our guys stayed to the task. Sometimes the ball bounces a certain way, sometimes it doesn’t bounce your way and sometimes it does.”
When March Madness arrives in a few weeks, the Badgers cannot afford to have those blips on the radar like they’ve had all season. This win in Columbus could provide this team with the spark needed to make a run in the NCAA Tournament.
Unlike Badgers teams of the past, this UW squad plays fundamentally sound basketball on the road. They finished the conference season 6-3 away from the Kohl Center and will be a team of interest when the Big Ten Tournament takes place in Indianapolis.
Let’s just say the verdict is still out on this team when it comes to projecting them in the NCAA tourney, I’m neither ready to endorse them or throw them to the wayside.
Player of the Game: Jared Berggren (18 points and 5 rebounds)
Not only did Berggren sink the three-pointer which ended up being the winning shot in the game, he held Big Ten Player of the Year candidate Jared Sullinger to only eight points and six rebounds. In the Buckeyes win at the Kohl Center, Sullinger layed 24 and 10 on Berggren, making this even sweeter for the junior big-man.
“I have never sold out a player. Our team defense was good. He is going to have his game – you can’t take a guy like that out of his game. You just try to limit touches and try to make him work on defense. We try to do that with any good offensive player. It is the same game inside and outside for us. Our guys showed a lot of grit and did things that we worked on for the first game,” Ryan said of guarding Sullinger.
Jordan Taylor also had an efficient game with 19 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists. I’m not sure if there’s ever been a Badgers player who has seen as much success as this senior point guard.
Stat of the Game: (40) The streak of losses on the road versus Big Ten top-ten teams prior to the win against the Buckeyes. Bo Ryan was an assistant for the Badgers in 1980, the last time they notched a win over a top-ten team in a conference road game.
What’s Next: Even though the Badgers are done on the road, the last two games of the season will be no cake-walk. The Badgers will welcome two teams who are desperate for wins if they want to make the tournament (Minnesota and Illinois). The Badgers had success versus both of these teams on the road and will need two wins if they want to continue to fight for one of those top-tier seeds in the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments.
What did you think of the Badgers in their surprising win in Columbus? Let me know by commenting below!
Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers, Green Bay Packers, and Milwaukee Brewers. He also enjoys to share Fantasy Advice from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best.