Just another day in the Big Ten.
No. 3 Michigan had a chance to put themselves into a great position for a run at the Big Ten regular season title by winning in the Kohl Center, and it looked like they were going to do just that when Tim Hardaway Jr. hit a contested three from the top of the key with 2.4 seconds left.
But there was too much time left on the clock.
Junior guard Ben Brust took the in-bounds, Michigan’s Caris LaVert didn’t foul him and Brust hit a running 40-footer to send the game into overtime:
In the extra frame, the two teams traded baskets before Brust hit another three, this one with 39 seconds left, to put the Badgers up 65-62. Michigan would miss a layup at the other end, and after Ryan Evans missed the front-end of a one-and-one, Trey Burke’s three fell short and Wisconsin escaped, 65-62.
This was a huge win for the Badgers, as they now tied with Michigan and Ohio State for the second-best record in the Big Ten, a game behind Indiana and Michigan State. Indiana plays at Ohio State on Sunday, and this afternoon with feature the Spartans visiting Purdue. There’s a realistic chance that, come Monday morning, the Badgers will be sitting in a five-way tie for first place in the Big Ten.
Even if they still wind up a game out of first place, the Badgers are in a great position to make a run at the regular season title. They only play Michigan and Indiana once this season, and won both of those games. They visit Minnesota on Thursday and host Ohio State next Sunday, but in their last five games, the only other tournament team that the Badgers will face is a trip to East Lansing to take on Michigan State. They lost to the Spartans by two points back in January.
That schedule’s not a cakewalk, but no one in the Big Ten is going to have it easy down the stretch of the season. What’s important is that Wisconsin has swept the two best teams in the league. It’s not crazy to think that the Badgers can win six of their last seven games.
A 14-4 Big Ten record might be enough to earn them a regular season title, especially if they hold the tie-breaker with Michigan and Indiana.
But regardless of all the big picture postulating, what really matters is that Saturday got kicked off with yet another incredible game and thrilling finish.
And it’s only 2:00 p.m.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.