Wisconsin continues its hold on Hoosiers
Indiana is still a lock to make the NCAA tournament, but the Hoosiers' hopes for a top seed slipped away on Saturday.
Wisconsin stunned the No. 3 Hoosiers, 68-56, in a Big Ten tournament semifinal at the United Center, ending Indiana's bid for a top NCAA seed.
The Hoosiers, the regular season Big Ten champions, will ponder what went wrong and regroup for the Big Dance.
"Obviously we wanted to get this win today," Indiana forward Cody Zeller said. "We'll learn from it. We'll figure out what we did wrong. We'll make the corrections and get ready for next week because that's what's most important."
Wisconsin (23-10) might its see post-season stock rise, especially if the Badgers win Sunday's Big Ten championship game. Badger forward Mike Bruesewitz sees a competitive tournament.
"It's a wide open thing and anybody can beat anybody on any night," Bruesewitz said. "We have to make sure we bring our A-Game."
But there's still other business ahead after the Badgers earned their fifth all-time title game appearance. They'll meet either Michigan State or Ohio State on Sunday.
Against Indiana, Wisconsin forward Ryan Evans led a balanced attack with 16 points, his second straight game in double figures.
"(Ryan) was huge for us," center Jared Berggren said. "We were getting him a lot of touches inside and kind of running our offense through him a little bit. ...
"Yesterday he had a lot of big plays where he was either scoring or finding teammates. He had a lot of assists."
Wisconsin kept Indiana at arm's length through the final 4:43, going 11-for-17 from the free throw line to pad their margin.
Ben Brust had 12 points, and Berggren and Sam Dekker each added 11 for the Badgers in front of a packed house.
Indiana (27-6) was paced by Christian Watford's 14 points. Zeller had 13 points and 11 rebounds, and Victor Oladipo added 10 points.
While Wisconsin was hitting free throws, Indiana went three full minutes without a field goal in the late going until Jordan Hulls scored with 33.8 seconds to play.
It was Wisconsin's second victory of the season over Indiana and 12th in a row. The Badgers claimed a 64-59 road decision on Jan. 15.
"We knew that we were capable of having success against this team," Berggren said. "If we stuck to our rules and played our style of basketball, we were able to do that today to come up with a win."
Both teams worked much on the first half inside the paint, but Wisconsin went long distance later as it built a 34-31 lead after 20 minutes.
The Badgers trailed most of the opening half, but jumped ahead with 6:24 showing when Brust picked up a lose ball and bolted down court to drain a 3-pointer for a 23-22 edge.
It was the first of four Wisconsin 3-pointers over the next 3:58. The last, by George Marshall with 2:26 showing, opened a 34-28 lead. Indiana replied with Zeller's jumper and Watford's 3-pointer in the final minute to trim the deficit.
Evans paced Wisconsin with 10 first half points, while Watford and Oladipo had eight apiece for Indiana.
Berggren opened the second half with a dunk, but most of the next six minutes belonged to Indiana, which used a 10-0 run to temporarily climb back ahead.
An alert Oladipo had a steal and a layup to tie the score, 40-40, and another Wisconsin turnover led to two free throw tries for Remy Abell, who hit the second for a 41-40 lead.
Dekker broke a 43-43 tie with seven points over the next 50 seconds, including a 3-pointer and a driving layup with 11:11 showing for a 50-43 Badger lead.
Indiana made another run to cut the lead to 52-49, setting the stage for the decisive final six minutes.
"Wisconsin played well; they shot the ball very well," Hoosier coach Tom Crean said. "They made some open ones, and they also made some tough ones ... and they answered the bell every time we made a comeback."
NOTES: Wisconsin, which reached the Big Ten semifinals for the second straight year, also recorded its fourth win over a Top 10 team. The Badgers now have a school record seven wins over Top 25 teams this season. ... It was a tale of two halves on Friday vs. Michigan, as Wisconsin had a season-low 17 points and hit 17.2 percent in the first half, and then collected a season-high 51 points on 60.7 percent shooting in the second. ... No. 3 ranked Indiana, regular season champion and the top Big Ten tournament seed, will make the NCAA tournament with a high seed, but saw its chances for a top seed vanish with Saturday's loss. ... The Hoosiers are 7-1 against nationally ranked teams and 5-0 versus Top 10 teams on the road. ... Indiana coach Tom Crean is 87-81 through five full seasons, but 54-15 since the start of 2011-12. ... The Hoosiers have been ranked nationally for 31 consecutive weeks, the most since Indiana went 71 straight weeks in the rankings from 1989-94. ... The Big Ten coaching fraternity lost one member Saturday when Northwestern fired Bill Carmody after 13 seasons and a 192-210 overall record, four NIT appearances but none in the NCAA tournament.
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