Big Ten Tournament UW’s next challenge

first_imgJEFF SCHORFHEIDE/Herald photoIt took 16 wins for Wisconsin to claim the Big Ten regular season title. To win the conference?s next championship, it only needs three.UW will travel to Indianapolis this week for the Big Ten tournament where, as the No. 1 seed, the team will be the favorite to add a tournament title to its regular season one.?It would mean a lot,? junior Marcus Landry said of the importance of a tournament championship. ?Obviously that?s what everybody wants; everybody is going for that.?Though the tournament officially starts Thursday, the Badgers have a bye in the first round and will play either Iowa or Michigan on Friday. Wisconsin beat each team twice in the regular season, but not knowing their next opponent right away just adds to the difficulty the Badgers already have with the potential of playing three games in as many days.?It?s a situation that we?ve been in before,? Landry said. ?But we prepare for both teams, and when you find out, you prepare for that team. It?s kind of a different situation, but that?s how it works.?UW played in a regular season tournament at the Kohl Center earlier this season that also saw the team play three games in three days.?That prepared us for something like the Big Ten tournament and the NCAA tournament,? Landry said.Wisconsin has twice previously been the Big Ten tournament?s top seed, but his lost in the quarterfinals both times, and only three teams have been able to follow up a regular season title with one in the conference tournaments.?Obviously when you?re the top seed there?s a target on your back,? sophomore Jason Bohannon said. ?You just have to go in there with the mindset of one game at a time and not try and overlook anyone because everyone is fighting for their lives.?Should Wisconsin advance to the semifinal round it would play the winner of the Ohio State-Michigan State game, and only a trip to the finals could gave UW a third chance to play Purdue ? the team responsible for both of UW?s conference losses this year.?If we get to them, the third shot is great, but if we don?t or they don?t, it doesn?t really matter,? Landry said.Wisconsin is safely in the NCAA tournament, but like some of the conference?s other teams, UW will be playing to improve their seed. Others will be desperate for a tournament championship win and an automatic bid into the big dance.?Every game is going to be physical, every game is going to be a dogfight. ? Every team is trying to get into the NCAA tournament,? Bohannon said.With such a grueling schedule ahead, the Badgers will need to rely on their bench to provide valuable minutes. Wisconsin has the potential to go nine-deep, and Jason Bohannon was honored as the conference?s sixth man of the year Monday.?It feels pretty good,? Bohannon said of winning the award. ?I just tried to provide a spark off the bench however I could this year.?Wisconsin hasn?t played since claiming sole possession of the regular season title Saturday, and in addition to being rested, UW will enter the Big Ten tournament on a winning streak. The Badgers have won their last seven games and 20 of their last 22.?I think we?re playing pretty good,? Landry said. ?I think that there?s a lot more that we could do, that we?re capable of, but I think we?re playing pretty well as a team.?With the NCAA Tournament set to begin next week, the Big Ten Tournament will also give the Badgers additional experience playing in games where a loss means going home.?We know it’s going to be a long stretch, but we?ve got to take things one game at a time,? Bohannon said. ?It?s good preparation for us, and hopefully we can get something out of it.?The tournament kicks off Thursday when Iowa takes on Michigan. Penn State will also play Illinois and Minnesota will finish the day when it plays Northwestern.Last season Wisconsin lost in the championship game to Ohio State. Wisconsin?s only Big Ten Tournament championship came in 2004.last_img

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