Rapid Recap: No. 24 Wisconsin 76, Northwestern 48


Daily file photo by Jacob Morgan

Bryant McIntosh surveys the court. The junior guard finished with 8 points as the Wildcats fell to No. 24 Wisconsin.

Garrett Jochnau, Sports Editor

Men’s Basketball

Looking to build on its historic Big Ten Tournament run, Northwestern fell flat in its first-ever trip to the tournament semifinal.

Against a Wisconsin team eyeing revenge for a February loss, the Wildcats (23-11, 10-8 Big Ten) failed to find an offensive rhythm Saturday, and the No. 24 Badgers (25-8, 12-6) delivered a wire-to-wire 76-48 rout to secure their spot in the Big Ten championship.

From the start, NU looked like a team playing its third game in as many days. The Cats opened 0-for-7 from the floor, finding good opportunities but failing to convert. Eventually, junior guard Bryant McIntosh broke the seal nearly five minutes in, but Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig pushed the Badgers out to an early 10-2 lead.

From there NU found sporadic scores, managing an uninspired 7-for-27 shooting line in the opening period. Behind Hayes’ 12 first-half points, Wisconsin entered the break leading 38-21.

The teams traded baskets for the opening five minutes of the second half, but the Cats went cold after a McIntosh jumper with 15:02 remaining. The Badgers danced out on a 13-2 run as NU went over six minutes without a field goal.

Eventually, junior guard Scottie Lindsey ended the drought with 8:14 remaining, but with Wisconsin leading by 20-plus and little going right for the Cats, the damage was done.

Wisconsin coasted to the victory and will play Michigan in Sunday’s final. NU, which finished the contest shooting 34.6 percent from the field, will get a few days rest before its first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament next week.


1. Fatigue plays a factor

The Cats looked tired, and honestly, who could blame them?

The condensed nature of conference tournaments challenges stamina, and in its third game in three days, NU simply couldn’t muster any more magic. In the opening half, Wisconsin — which began its postseason campaign Friday afternoon against Indiana — looked far more alert, outscoring the Cats 14-4 in the paint and moving the ball offensively to the tune of seven assists. NU managed just one before the intermission.

2. The Wildcats struggle from deep

Without an individual scorer stepping up to lead the charge, the Cats needed a big-time shooting effort to stay afloat. But the team connected on just 3-of-14 attempts from 3, a far cry from Wisconsin’s 12-of-29 effort from deep.

The inefficient outing comes on the heels of back-to-back contests in which NU shot 45 percent or better from long range. But the Cats found no such magic Saturday amid a wholly feeble scoring performance against the Badgers.

3. It’s not over for Northwestern

Selection Sunday might be a day away, but NU’s place in the NCAA Tournament is all but guaranteed. And unlike last year, when a heartbreaking loss to Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament spelled the end of the Cats’ season, Saturday’s defeat only marks the end of one postseason chapter.

NU’s upcoming slate will be announced Sunday, but until the Big Dance kicks off, the Cats can rest easy and prepare to make history yet again.

– McIntosh: 8 points, 4-of-12 shooting
– NU: 5 assists
– Lindsey: 16 points, 5-of-10 shooting

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated when the game was played. The game occurred Saturday. The Daily regrets the error.

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Twitter: @GarrettJochnau