With the way the Badgers have played since mid-January, they've looked like one of the two best teams in the Big Ten.
And now, however improbably, they actually are.
Though the conference standings are always changing, Wisconsin at least temporarily moved into second place in the league after a 68-57 win over Michigan on Sunday evening in Madison. The win was the third straight for the Badgers, who have won 10 of their last 11 after starting conference play 1-4.
The Badgers trailed the Wolverines by a point at the half after shooting just 41.7 percent over the first 20 minutes. But after several minutes of lead trading in the second half, Wisconsin burst away from a one-point deficit with 13 minutes to play, going on a 13-3 run that built a nine-point lead. Nigel Hayes scored six of those 13 points, with Ethan Happ accounting for four. Michigan did respond with back-to-back buckets to make it a five-point game, but a Bronson Koenig triple served as the dagger, stretching the lead back out to eight. It didn't get any smaller the rest of the way, and Vitto Brown's career-high fourth 3-pointer made it a double-digit lead that reached as high as 13 before the final horn sounded with an 11-point margin.
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The Badgers shot 56 percent from the field over the final 20 minutes, going 14-for-25 from the field and 4-for-9 from behind the 3-point line. They finished with a big 33-20 rebounding advantage and went 12-for-15 from the free-throw line.
The Wolverines finished shooting 48 percent from the field but were just 5-for-13 from 3-point range.
Koenig led four Wisconsin scorers in double figures with 19 points, making three 3-pointers. Hayes had 16 points, Brown had 14 with the quartet of made triples and Happ had 12.
Zak Irvin led Michigan with 14 points, with Derrick Walton Jr., Duncan Robinson and Ricky Doyle all scoring 10 points.
The Badgers' latest win boosted their record to 19-10 overall and 11-5 in the Big Ten, good enough for the time being for the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament. Of course, Wisconsin still has two more regular-season games left — plus a lot more could happen around the league with tiebreakers and such — against Minnesota on Wednesday and against Purdue next weekend, both away from the Kohl Center.
The Wolverines have dropped three of their last four, the most recent lowering their record to 20-10 overall and 10-7 in the league. Michigan's final regular-season game comes next weekend against Iowa.