It was late January and Michigan was entering a gauntlet only Big Ten Conference Basketball scheduling could bring.
Three top ten ranked teams- Wisconsin, Iowa, and Michigan State- in the span of a week. Road trips to Madison and Lansing with the Iowa game sandwiched in at home. Not to mention Michigan already had four losses and was unranked.
Nik Stauskas was Michigan's leading scorer through the 16 games before the trip to Wisconsin. The last two times the Wolverines played top-10 competition, he struggled. He combined for just 18 points in losses to Duke and Arizona, while averaging just over 18 points in the other games.
The Wisconsin game was a must win, but daunting. They were ranked no. 3 in the nation, and no one forgot how Ben Brust snatched a victory away with his half-court buzzer beater just a year prior.
All eyes were on Stauskas. Would Michigan be able, led by the upstart sophomore, to avenge last year's heart breaking loss?
After a back and forth first half, Michigan led 43-35. Michigan was able to extend the second half lead to 15, but the Badgers stormed back, cutting the Wolverine lead to 1, 68-67 with just under two minutes left. After misses by both sides, Stauskas caught an inbounds pass, started to the right, and beautifully executed his patented reverse through the legs dribble to step back and ice a three, and any chance of a Wisconsin comeback in the process.
The Wisconsin win was a resume win for Michigan. It boosted the Wolverines to go on to sweep three top-10 teams in a week- catapulting them from unranked to tenth in the nation- and giving the National Championship runner-ups from 2013 national relevance once again.
For Stauskas, it was a highlight that was played during every B1G Player of the Year discussion. Stauskas solidified his status as the man to go to when the shot clock was winding down for the rest of the year, a position firmly held byTrey Burke in years prior.