NEW YORK CITY- In the 8/9 matchup of the Big Ten Tournament, Wisconsin led for almost 35 minutes of game-time and closed out a back-and-forth contest on a Brevin Pritzl jumper with 28 seconds remaining to give the Badgers the lead for the remainder of the game.
Trailing by as many as five in the second half, Maryland tied the game at 47-47 with a Bruno Fernando layup with 4:18 remaining. Despite their deficit never reaching larger than two points the rest of the way, the Terrapins could not manage to get over the hump and take the lead.
Kevin Huerter led the way for Maryland with a game high 20 points on 8-of-15 shooting. Anthony Cowan added 16 points of his own.
Two Brad Davison free-throws with :08 seconds remaining pulled Wisconsin ahead at 57-54 and a Khalil Iverson steal with under five seconds left ended any hope of a Maryland prayer.
Four Badgers finished in double-digits with Ethan Happ scoring a team-high 14 points. Davison added 13 while Iverson tallied 11 and Pritzl added 10.
Let’s take a look at what we learned from Thursday afternoon’s game.
What We Learned:
Wisconsin did a great job closing on the perimeter:
Maryland came into the Big Ten Tournament as one of the best three-point shooting teams in the conference. The Terrapins were making just under 38 percent of their shots behind the arc, good for fourth best in the Big Ten.
However, throughout Thursday afternoon’s game, Wisconsin’s guards quickly closed out on Maryland shooters consistently forcing them to take contested shots.
The Terrapins finished 2-of-14 from three-point range, tied for their lowest amount of the season, the other coming against Stony Brook in Maryland’s opening game where they also finished 2-of-14 from behind the arc.
Maryland’s two best shooters, Jared Nickens and Kevin Huerter struggled to make long-range shots finishing 1-of-4 and 0-of-3 from behind the arc respectively. The only other made three-pointer came from Anthony Cowan. The Terrapins’ inability to make shots from behind the arc played a major role in their downfall.
Bruno Fernando caused many problems in the post
Fans at Madison Square Garden witnessed a war in the paint when Maryland freshman Bruno Fernando went against Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ and really caused the Badgers a lot of problems.
40 of Maryland’s 54 points came inside the paint, 12 of which came out of the hands of Fernando. He finished 5-of-11 from the field and fell just one rebound shy of recording a double-double.
If Fernando opts to enter the NBA Draft, the potential lottery pick will make one team very happy as he has the build and the strength to grow and be a force in the pros. If he returns to Maryland for his sophomore year, he will be a candidate for Big Ten Player of the Year honors.
Wisconsin’s offensive rebounding sealed the victory
Wisconsin is not a great rebounding team. They rank in the bottom three in both defensive and offense rebounds per game, averaging just under nine for the latter.
However, against Maryland the Badgers came up with some huge boards on the offensive glass, 12 in total, with three resulting in second-chance points.
None were bigger than the two that came on one of Wisconsin’s final possessions. After a Pritzl missed three-pointer, Khalil Iverson came up with the rebound to extend the possession into the final minute. After an ensuing Davison missed three-pointer, Happ grabbed an offensive board of his own which led to Pritzl’s game-winning shot with under 30 seconds left.
This was a tough year for Maryland that concluded with their players fighting to the very end. At the beginning of the year, the Terrapins were projected to finish in the top four of the Big Ten. However, season-ending injuries to Justin Jackson and Ivan Bender killed the depth that they had. Maryland’s season was over before it really even got started. Who knows where the Terrapins could have ended up if fully healthy.
Wisconsin should have the Big Ten on notice. With the pieces that they can return, including: Davison, Happ, and Pritzl, along with getting key players like D’Mitrik Trice back from injuries, the Badgers will be right back amongst the top teams in the conference.
With their win, the Badgers will play the No. 1 seed Michigan State Spartans Friday afternoon at noon. This will be the second meeting between the two teams in the last five days and the third this season with the Spartans winning both previous times.