Wisconsin vs. UNC: Live Game Diary

7ish minutes until tipoff: Indiana just won, Penn State knocked off BC, and Michigan State is pulling away from Florida State. All signs point to the Big Ten winning the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. I just hope Wisconsin can put the exclamation mark on this night with a win.

Should be tipoff: Michigan State-Florida State game is taking too long to finish. I just want to watch my Badgers. Minnesota is already up 10-2 on Virginia Tech. Big Ten is running train on the ACC this year.

Waiting: Michigan State fans are chanting “Beat Wisconsin” talking about the Big Ten Championship game this Saturday. I will be at that game and I can assure you, vengeance will be had. Look out Sparty.

20:00 YES!

18:59 Not surprising, our first possession results in a Mike Bruesewitz’s three point attempt. Oy.

18:02 The ball should never be in Jared Berggren’s hands for that long.

17:53 What up JT!

16:30 Ryan Evans is always good for a tip in. His game is played entirely above the rim.

15:50 The announcers are totally right. Wisconsin’s defense is doing a phenomenal job of stopping UNC from running. Also getting all the rebounds and not giving up second possessions.

15:10 The announcers are crushing on Jordan Taylor and I love it. Everything they say about him is awesome.

14:10 Not a fan of those two baskets. We need to get this offense going so we aren’t just jacking up threes. Oh wait, it’s Wisconsin.

13:14 Ok enough with the stupid TOs. Good timeout by Bo. Get everyone settled, get the ball in Taylor’s hands and run some actual plays.

12:52 One of the people I’m watching with just said “yeah white guy!” in response to that Berggren block. Not exactly a household name yet.

12:29 Oh man, Taylor is in one of those modes. He is going to shoot himself into a groove. Ohio State knows about this mode.

11:51 Typical Ryan Evans. His offense this year is making me like him a little bit, but whenever I see him handle the ball I’m reminded of my year of JV high school basketball.

11:40 They announcer reminds me that the Big Ten won the Challenge. Now what Joey.

10:56 That was brutal.

10:32 Wow Berggren, nicely done.

10:11 What is up with missing free throws this year? I just expect everyone to be automatic from the line now.

9:21 We’re lucky UNC isn’t hitting from deep. Need to keep boxing out and getting those boards.

8:32 Brust has swagger. No other way to say it. That kid knows he has skills and he isn’t afraid to show them.

7:18 I bet Frank Kaminsky never thought someone would say his name on ESPN. Ryan Evans should not have the ball in that situation. I’d rather have Taylor drive blindly and try to draw a foul. The defense is here right now but the offense needs to catch up. Can we get a big man in there so we can work it inside-outside?

7:16 Rasheed Wallace looks like a bum.

6:42 I can’t handle all these threes. We need a new plan.

5:34 …enough

5:04 Taylor is off-balance on every shot. He needs to come off some screens for catch-and-shoots. Get good, set shots.

4:14 Gasser was open that entire possession but Evans takes the shot. I don’t understand this offense.

3:48 Ben Brust ladies and gentlemen!

3:36 The defense has been great during this stretch. If we can keep this momentum up for the rest of the half we could go into the locker room with a lead.

2:55 Berggren again! Fantastic defense keeping UNC from speeding up the game.

1:00 Ok Rob Wilson. And there goes the defense.

:31 Where has that been all game Taylor?!

:05 Committing that foul and giving them the potential for free points is really frustrating.

Halftime: Phew. Their free throw shooting is strangely bad right now, but I’m a fan. That is the perfect first half for the Badgers besides being up 30. Except for a handful of possessions we’ve kept the game at our pace. Not letting the Heels run is the biggest thing we can do to win this game because we can score. Somehow, we’re scoring. This has been some of the worst offense I’ve seen this season but it’s getting results. I don’t mind Taylor taking a three when he’s feeling it, but for crying out loud set your feet and try to be less than 5 feet outside the line. That last basket he had in the half is what I would rather have him do. He has the agility to get to the lane, and if Barnes is on him the ankles come into play. The bench players are providing a nice boost for the Badgers right now. We need to keep the Heels off the offensive boards. They had four, three by Henson alone, in the first half but luckily the defense has been able to step back up on the second possessions. This game is totally within our reach, we just need to want it more. If we can come out strong and get on a run to take the crowd out of it this game is very winnable.

Waiting again: You can’t help but feel pumped up by those Under Armour commercials.

19:29 The first half of that possession was so solid and then the three. I don’t understand.

18:36 Berggren is killing it out there. So much hustle. The defense has to continue being strong.

17:36 We need to get composed here. Can’t get antsy and just force everything.

16:47 Wow Jared Berggren! The drive, the rebound, the intensity. He wants it.

15:51 Awesome block by Evans. Now let’s get something out of it.

15:40 And Evans has it going on the other end too. We need to pass them soon because playing catchup the whole half will not end well.

15:22 I don’t even mind that TO on Berggren (that much) because he has been the story of this game. Just leaving it all on the court. Good job out there, sir.

14:40 I’m speechless. Berggren for President.

13:48 Ben Brust showing he’s still here too. The offensive rebounds have to go. We can’t afford to give them extra shots.

13:26 Brust with a rebound too. I love the guys in the shadows stepping up and carrying the team.

13:20 As the announcer said, Evans has never played better. He’s never had his offense working this well. I commend him.

12:06 The Heels are doing a good job limiting our offense. JT is definitely shooting enough to get some guys going on head fakes. I want to see him driving now.

11:58 UNC’s bigs are doing a good job at getting at boards. Have to box them out.

11:39 I forgot Barnes can do that. Doesn’t matter if you put a hand in his face on that one because he can score when he wants to.

11:14 Slow it down, slow it down.

10:58 There it is Taylor. That’s what happens when you drive.

10:26 Barnes is trying to put the team on his back and it’s working.

10:00 We need to maintain a slow pace to keep this game under control.

9:31 Can’t give them free points. Need a basket to stop the momentum.

9:09 That’s the Ryan Evans I remember. Nine minutes is a long time to be in the bonus. I trust Bo to talk these guys down and get a good play coming for the next offensive possession. The defense needs to stop Barnes, but not at the cost of freeing up easy shots down low. If our bigs get pulled out to the perimeter there’s no one to help on drives.

8:34 Oh lord did that just go in? The defense shut down the Badgers on that possession, but somehow Kaminsky’s three drops. Wow.

7:40 The offense looked good there but I think the Ryan Evans magic is over. Good to see Taylor still driving.

7:31 The fact that Nebraska took Wake Forrest to the buzzer really says something about the ACC this year.

7:30 Man I do not like the Zellers.

6:34 That was such a solid defensive possession and then Harrison frickin’ Barnes. We’re still in this.

5:30 Strickland killing us at both ends of the floor. He has taken JT out of this game.

4:53 Yes Taylor! We have to take advantage of free throws here…and oh my goodness. That can’t happen. Bad omen.

4:36 Things are falling apart. I want everyone channeling their inner JJ Barea. Just attack the basket.

3:48 And Evans is officially done.

3:18 UNC doesn’t seem to want to put this away. We have to take advantage of the opportunities they’re giving us.

2:58 If they’re going to give that to you then put it up there.

2:34 Hmmmm…

2:02 Why wasn’t that goaltending? Ball sure looked like it was over the cylinder when the Heels player touched it.

1:23 You get the take away and then give it back to Evans? WHY?

1:03 And these should put it away. Really good game by Wisconsin though. They definitely proved they can hang with one of the best teams in the country. Interesting foul by Barnes. Reminds me of this strategy.

:46 Holy crap Berggren! Nice win my Minnesota. Should be interesting to see when they drop out of relevance after losing Mbakwe. Wow and we force them to use a timeout.

:45 I hope this doesn’t drag on too long.

:25 Oh man Taylor why haven’t you been playing this way the whole game? That was definitely an and one too. If only he could make the free throw.

:04 Oh come on ref, swallow your whistle on that one. They clearly aren’t trying to foul anymore.

:00 OOOOOHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ben Brust has swagger. I’m pretty sure the Badgers end their practice with half court shots, so that could be routine for him.

I’m not that upset about the loss. The Badgers hung with a very good team and forced them to play their game for the majority of the contest. I have to give a tip of the cap to Strickland who just shut down Jordan Taylor, especially in the second half. The offense was so start and stop that we never got in a flow for more than a few possessions. The Badgers also had significant chunks of scoreless time in both halves that allowed UNC to stay on top. The Heels did a great job of controlling the boards on defense and crashing the offensive glass too.

Had Wisconsin won there is no doubt in my mind that the game ball goes to Jared Berggren. That kid played out of his mind tonight and carried his team though long stretches of that game. He is clearly skilled and comes to play in big time games, something he can hopefully teach Taylor. Wisconsin got good contributions off the bench, especially from Ben Brust who is a special player. That three at the end of the game is a win in my book.

In the end I saw two things that really led to the loss. There is no way that two starters can go scoreless and we win against a team of UNC’s caliber. Gasser and Bruesewitz were invisible on the offensive end, and both of them are capable scorers. Gasser came into the game shooting 71% from three, tops in the nation. He just never got going in this one, which is somewhat understandable because of Evans and Berggren’s elevated offensive play. The other thing was Harrison Barnes. He got his team going and he pushed the offense. He did a great job of getting the Heels to play their game at the end, and that was what put them over the edge. I respect his skills and perseverance, but couldn’t he have just sat this one out? Oh well, would’ve been happier with a win, but I’ll take a strong game and close loss. Plus, the Big Ten crushed the ACC 8-4 in the Challenge.

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