Wisconsin

Wisconsin Badgers' Kaminsky and Ohio State Buckeyes' Thompson fight for a rebound during their NCAA game in Chicago, Illinois

Frank Kaminsky playing well for Wisconsin on Canadian trip

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With Ryan Evans, Jared Berggren and Mike Bruesewitz — Wisconsin’s three top rebounders from last season — graduating, Bo Ryan is looking for some added production on the frontline besides rising sophomore Sam Dekker.

On Wisconsin’s trip to Canada, the Badgers may have an answer in 6-foot-11 rising junior Frank Kaminsky. As a sophomore, Kaminsky played around 10 minutes per game, averaging 4.2 points and 1.8 rebounds. However, he’s made a solid inside-out combo with Ben Brust in these Canadian exhibitions according to Jim Polzin of the Wisconsin State-Journal.

On Saturday night, in a 88-76 win over A-Game Hoops, Kaminsky had a team-high, tied with Brust, with 17 points. He is averaging 14.3 points per game on this trip, which is good for second on the team behind Dekker.

“Obviously, I’ve had a chance to step in and play some more minutes now that most of our frontcourt has graduated,” Kaminksy told Polzin in a phone interview. “It’s been nice to be able to step in and play more and get looks that maybe I would have gotten last year. I’m excited about what this year is going to bring.

“I feel like I’m building on what (coach Bo Ryan) is saying. After every game, he talks to us (and shows) teaching clips. I’m just really excited to work on it now when we have actual games so I can prepare for it when practice comes.”

Last week, Wisconsin got word that point guard Josh Gasser would be cleared to play in Canada after missing the 2012-2013 season. The addition of Gasser, and the rise in Kaminsky’s game — along with Dekker, Brust and Traevon Jackson — and the Badgers have a solid core on a team trying to build on a 23-12 (12-6 Big Ten) season, while also trying to make up for an early exit in the NCAA tournament.

“It’s a great learning experience for some of these younger guys when they’re going to press us in the Big Ten, because you learn to play with a lead,” Kaminsky added. “That’s what this trip is about is learning to do those type of things.”

No. 3 Indiana falls to No. 22 Wisconsin in Big Ten semifinals

Yogi Ferrell
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No. 3 Indiana is solidly at the top of the list of elite teams in the country, but after its 68-56 loss to No. 22 Wisconsin Saturday afternoon in the Big Ten semifinals, is it still a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament? If they’re not, the Badgers’ 12 straight wins over Indiana will be a thorn in the Hoosiers’ side.

But the answer is likely “yes.” Perhaps we should focus on the bigger question, which is will the Hoosiers be the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament? Indiana is a perfect 18-0 against teams not in the RPI Top 50, an unblemished mark rivaled only at the top by Gonzaga. They also have the benefit of being ninth in strength of schedule.

We may have a better feel after Saturday night when a Big East tournament champion is crowned. If Louisville beats Syracuse, it could be in the conversation as well with just one loss against teams outside the RPI Top 50. The Cardinals would also be riding into Selection Sunday on a 10-game winning streak.

There are some concerns going forward for Indiana, though. Wisconsin is a team that is comfortable with grinding a team down to a halt, slowing the pace, and forcing offenses into half-court sets. Saturday, it didn’t look like Indiana was comfortable doing that. Cody Zeller was 4-of-10 from the floor for 13 points and added 11 rebounds, but there was still a good deal of room for improvement as far as getting him more involved.

Victor Oladipo shot an uncharacteristic 33 percent from the floor and turned the ball over four times, though he had four steals, seven rebounds, and three assists. Oladipo has proven to be the engine and not necessarily the complement to Indiana’s offense.

This NCAA tournament will likely come down to matchups. With so much parity between the middle of Division I and higher majors, Indiana will need to watch out for teams that can emulate the sorts of things that Wisconsin can do. They’ll need to be patient in the half-court, get Zeller, Oladipo, and Christian Watford involved, and find lineups that prevent big scoring runs by the opposition.

The Hoosiers are elite, that’s for sure, but are they elite enough to be the overall No. 1? We will know Sunday.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Wisconsin escapes Penn State with win on Traevon Jackson’s buzzer beater (VIDEO)

Traevon Jackson
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Wisconsin will have to sit and wait while a possible four-way tie takes place atop the Big Ten, but it pulled some dramatics of its own Sunday. Penn State, which has played competitively of late under coach Pat Chambers, already has an upset win over Michigan under its belt. Wisconsin’s Traevon Jackson would not let it be two Top 25 wins for the Nittany Lions, though.

After Penn State forced a jump ball that left Wisconsin with 3.3 seconds to play and the ball under the opposite basket, it was inbounded to Jackson, who drove the length of the floor and got a three-pointer off in time from the wing and nailed it for the win. Watch below:

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

No. 17 Wisconsin takes hit in Big Ten title race with loss to Purdue

Wisconsin Purdue
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Long before TCU beat Kansas, we knew that this college basketball season was not going to follow much of a logical path. Penn State’s win over Michigan only confirmed that. Sunday at the Kohl Center in Madison it might not have been an upset of the magnitude of the two aforementioned games, but Purdue ousted No. 17 Wisconsin, 69-56, to hurt the Badgers in the race for the Big Ten regular season title.

Wisconsin had won six of its previous seven games. Purdue had lost six of its last eight. The Badgers had won 68 of their previous 70 at the Kohl Center against unranked Big Ten team. But, as we learned, conventional logic can take a seat on the sidelines.

The Badgers, a Top 60 rebounding team, were outrebounded by 10 and shot just 40 percent from the floor. D.J. Byrd had 22 points, including 6-of-9 shooting from three-point range.

But the important part is not the game itself, but rather the state of the Big Ten race.

Wisconsin was fortunate to draw one of the more favorable back stretches in the Big Ten. Its final five games were against Northwestern and Nebraska, taken care of, Sunday’s game against Purdue, one tough road game against No. 9 Michigan State, and finishing up with Penn State.

Indiana, by contrast, had Michigan State, Minnesota, Iowa, Ohio State, and Michigan. But, with this loss, Wisconsin now needs the Hoosiers to lose their final two games and the Badgers need to win both of theirs to pull into a tie atop the Big Ten race. How feasible is that? Indiana already traveled to Columbus and beat Ohio State, and will soon to welcome the Buckeyes to Bloomington. The Hoosiers also beat Michigan earlier this year.

The Hoosiers currently sit at 13-3, being chased by Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Wisconsin. And the road just got a whole lot tougher for coach Bo Ryan and the Badgers, especially considering that Indiana controls its own destiny.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

No. 23 Wisconsin takes advantage of ice-cold shooting from No. 13 Ohio State in win

Wisconsin
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There are two key ways to beat Ohio State: 1) Force Deshaun Thomas to be the lone offensive option and dare some other Buckeye to beat you. 2) Keep up the offensive pressure and make shots, which stops Ohio State from turning defense into offense. Happen to do both in the same game and the end result looks something like Sunday afternoon in Madison.

No. 23 Wisconsin held Ohio State to just 37 percent shooting from the floor while shooting 54 percent themselves, on their way to a 71-49 win at the Kohl Center in Wisconsin.

The Badgers saw open looks on the offensive end for much of the first half and converted. Dribble penetration opened up shots on the perimeter for Ben Brust, who finished with 15 points, and Sam Dekkar, who had 13. Those two were integral to an 18-0 run that grew the Wisconsin lead to 24-6 with 9:22 to play in the first.

That was aided by their defensive efforts, which isolated Deshaun Thomas and forced Ohio State to look to other offensive options, which were ultimately not there.

Wisconsin played a game of numbers and won. It’s difficult to completely eliminated Deshaun Thomas. His 18 points are a testament to that. But Lenzelle Smith, Jr., Aaron Craft, and LaQuinton Ross combined to shoot 5-of-21 from the floor. The Badgers made someone else beat them and on Sunday and no one did.

That should raise a red flag for Ohio State, as it has all season. Other Big Ten teams at the top of the conference like Michigan, Michigan State, and Indiana all have multiple legitimate scoring options. The Buckeyes have not shown that they do.

As for Wisconsin moving forward, they finally cracked into the Top 25 this week and will continue to move up. This efficiency and defensive pressure could carry them far, but it depends on if they make shots. Its not every game that they will hang 39 points on a team in the first half or that the opponent’s cold shooting will spur the offense.

Because of that, it will come back down to defense. Can the Badgers make the offense click enough to complement what the defense brings? They have a favorable final five games. Of those, only No. 8 Michigan State should be a concern. They’ll likely be favored against Purdue, Nebraska, Penn State, and Northwestern.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Pregame Shootaround 2.17.13: Big Ten steals show Sunday with Ohio State-Wisconsin

Deshaun Thomas
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Game of the Day: No. 13 Ohio State vs. No. 20 Wisconsin (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS)

The Big Ten has routinely made for the best matchups on Sunday over the past few weeks and does not disappoint this time, either. Deshaun Thomas and the Buckeyes meet a Wisconsin team that has finally and deservedly cracked the Top 25.

The key for Ohio State offensively is getting Thomas help and keeping him from having to score more than about 25 percent of their overall points. This means Lenzelle Smith, Jr., Sam Thompson, Aaron Craft, and the emerging LaQuinton Ross need to contribute, or else Thomas is left to shoulder too much of the load.

It won’t be that simple on the road at the Kohl Center. Wisconsin is 179-17 in the past 12 seasons in that building. Even up three points in the final seconds, the lead is not safe. Just ask Michigan.

Expect it to be another bruising Big Ten matchup as the conference jockeys for postseason position.

Who’s Getting Upset?: Minnesota (-1.5) vs. Iowa (2:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Iowa has hung around until the final minutes with a number of quality Big Ten schools, including Indiana, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Michigan State. For that reason, they’re a trendy upset pick. The biggest battle for the Hawkeyes Sunday will be on the glass, where both teams rank in the nation’s Top 20. A win would add to a postseason resume.

Mid-Major Matchup of the Day: Wichita State vs. Illinois State (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Wichita State has bounced back from a three-game losing streak with two straight wins, but they have no easy task Sunday against Illinois State. The entire Missouri Valley is a threat on any given night, as evidence by Indiana State’s loss to Bradley last night and Creighton narrowly avoiding a fourth straight loss by coming back to beat Evanville.

The Shockers need to get Cleanthony Early and Carl Hall involved. During that three-game losing streak, their failure to get into the offensive flow was perhaps the biggest problem. Illinois State will be looking to future pro Jackie Carmichael, who had a dominating 27-point, 13-rebound game against Bradley his last time out.

Five Things to Watch For

1) No. 3 Miami remains undefeated in ACC play and should be able to keep up its winning ways Sunday against Clemson. The Hurricanes had some trouble fending off Florida State in their last game before getting the win, but expect Shane Larkin to have another strong outing to follow his 22-point performance vs. FSU.

2) No.4 Michigan ran into a perfect storm in their big loss to No. 8 Michigan State on Tuesday. Take a very good Spartans team, put Michigan on the road, and put that game at the end of a brutal four-game stretch in the Big Ten, and double-digit losses like that can happen. They should bounce back Sunday against Penn State.

3) No. 9 Arizona has lost two games in a row and dropped from first in the Pac-12 into third at the moment. In those losses to Cal and Colorado, one key problem sticks out: three-point shooting defense. That means Arizona will have to keep an eye on the Utes’ shooters, including senior Jarred DuBois, who has a tendency to be hot and cold from behind the arc.

4) No. 12 Louisville responded to a five-overtime loss to Notre Dame with a good home win over St. John’s. Big East bottom dweller USF affords the Cardinals a chance to make it two straight wins. Despite the chance for a blowout, its worth watching Louisville guard Peyton Siva match up with South Florida guard Anthony Collins.

5) California has notched two straight quality wins, coming against Arizona and UCLA. They need to avoid a trap game loss to USC Sunday before they head to face No. 23 Oregon. The Bears Bay Area foes, Stanford, lost to the Trojans and hurt their NCAA tournament hopes this week. Cal hopes to avoid the same fate.

The Top 25

No. 3 Miami vs. Clemson (6:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

No. 4 Michigan vs. Penn State (12:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

No. 9 Arizona vs. Utah (3:00 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks)

No. 12 Louisville vs. South Florida (1:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)

No. 13 Ohio State vs. No. 20 Wisconsin (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS)

Other Notable Games

Minnesota vs. Iowa (2:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

James Madison vs. Delaware (7:30 p.m. ET)

Illinois vs. Northwestern (7:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Wichita State vs. Illinois State (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

California vs. USC (10:00  p.m. ET, Fox Sports Net National)

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_