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3/19 Big Ten NIT Recap: Wisconsin Beats Liberty

Recap all the Big Ten action from Sunday.

Syndication: Journal Sentinel Jovanny Hernandez / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Second Round of the 2023 National Invitational Tournament (“NIT”) continued on Sunday and the Big Ten had one team in action. Wisconsin hosted Liberty in what projected to be a competitive matchup.

Let’s take a look at what happened.

Game of the Night:

-No. 2 Wisconsin Badgers 75, No. 3 Liberty Flames 71

After an impressive showing against Bradley on Tuesday, Badger fans were hoping Wisconsin would continue rolling in the team’s matchup against Liberty on Sunday. However, Liberty presented a much tougher challenge for Wisconsin, as the Flames entered with an impressive 27-8 record and narrowly missed the NCAA Tournament.

The game would prove highly competitive. It went back-and-forth for much of the first half and that rolled into the second half as well. Both teams scored above a point a possession and Chucky Hepburn went off for 27 points and three rebounds. Darius McGhee carried Liberty and finished with 31 points, six rebounds, and four assists. However, a late push by the Badgers was just enough to get Wisconsin a narrow four-point win.

It’s also worth acknowledging that Wisconsin’s win came despite an underwhelming performance from Connor Essegian, who’s carried the Badgers during much of the last month of the season offensively. If Wisconsin is going to take some steps forward next season, it’s going to need a more diverse supporting cast and the Badgers got that on Sunday afternoon, which certainly has to be encouraging for fans.

Wisconsin improved to 19-14 overall with the win. The Badgers will now prepare for a road matchup against Oregon on Tuesday. A win would send Wisconsin to the NIT Final Four in Orleans Arena, which would certainly be a nice consolation price after a disappointing season. KenPom gives Wisconsin just a 31 percentage chance of beating the Ducks.