Wisconsin was one of the first four teams out in ESPN NCAA tournament guru Joe Lunardi’s latest bracket projection. That’s likely to change after a monumental win on Saturday night in College Park.
The Badgers turned in a terrific performance, taking down the second-ranked Maryland Terrapins, 70-57, in a big upset win that was the Badgers’ seventh straight and could be the signature victory needed to get Wisconsin into the field of 68.
It was Maryland’s first Big Ten conference loss at home since the Terps joined the Big Ten ahead of last season.
After Wisconsin jumped out to a 7-2 lead, Maryland fired back with a 12-0 run to surge to a 14-7 advantage with 13 and a half minutes until halftime. But that’s when the Terps’ offense came to a screeching halt. With the Terps missing shots and turning the ball over at an alarming rate, the Badgers went on a spectacular 29-7 run over the remainder of the period. Maryland went scoreless for nearly eight and a half minutes and went without a made basket for nearly 11 minutes. The Terps wound up shooting just 33.3 percent over the first 20 minutes and trailed by 15 at the half after trailing by as many as 16 during the first half.
Maryland freshman Diamond Stone grabbed headlines in the final minute of the first half when he tackled Wisconsin big man Vitto Brown and then pushed Brown’s head onto the floor. Shockingly, he was not ejected and both sides were assessed technical fouls, with Charlie Thomas earning the Badgers’ technical with an angry reaction that required restraint by his teammates.
[SHOP BIG TEN: Get your Badgers gear right here]
The Terps were definitely out to make it a game when the second half started, chipping into the Badgers’ lead and getting it all the way down to just six with about 10 and a half minutes to play. But Wisconsin scored eight of the next 10 points, getting a couple big baskets from Bronson Koenig to boost the lead back to 12. And after Stone’s bucket with five and a half minutes left made it an eight-point game, Zak Showalter answered with a big 3 to send it back to a double-digit advantage. Jake Layman followed with a 3 to make it 56-48, but Brown responded in kind, hitting a 3 that served as the dagger, stretching the lead back out to 11 with under four minutes to play. Wisconsin hit its free throws down the stretch and held on for a 13-point win.
The Badgers held a massive 20-4 advantage in second-chance points, grabbing 13 offensive rebounds and winning the overall rebounding battle, 40-30. Wisconsin went 12-for-26 from 3-point range, another strong 3-point effort, which has been a calling card during this winning streak. Comparatively, Maryland was just 5-for-14 from 3.
Brown was the high man for the Badgers with 21 points and seven rebounds. Koenig finished with 16 points, six rebounds and five assists. Nigel Hayes had 14 points, and Showalter scored 11 points.
Rasheed Sulaimon led the way for the Terps, scoring 17 points and hitting four 3-pointers. Melo Stone, Layman and Melo Trimble all finished with 10 points. Trimble scored eight of his points from the foul line on a horrible shooting night, going just 1-for-14 from the field.
The win was massive for Wisconsin, a signature road victory over the No. 2 team in the country and a boost to an NCAA tournament resume that had the Badgers squarely on the bubble. It was the latest in a seven-game winning streak that has also featured a win over Michigan State and Indiana. Wisconsin is now 16-9 overall and 8-4 in the Big Ten with a big-time trip to Michigan State up next.
The Terps saw their own winning streak of five games snapped with the loss, which dropped them to 22-4 overall and 10-3 in the conference. Maryland next visits Minnesota on Thursday.