Wisconsin doesn't want you counting it out of the running for Big Ten Tournament and NCAA tournament titles quite yet.
Entering Sunday's regular-season finale, the Badgers had dropped three straight and five of six. But they bounced back in a big way, stuffing rival Minnesota by a 66-49 score up in Madison.
The Golden Gophers saw their eye-popping eight-game winning streak snapped with the double-digit blowout defeat. Richard Pitino's team had a chance to ride into the Big Ten Tournament without a loss since late January, but instead it was the Badgers clinching the No. 2 seed in next week's conference tournament in Washington.
Wisconsin shut down Minnesota in this one, limiting the visitors to 32.1-percent shooting on the night and a grotesque 23.3-percent mark in the second half.
The Gophers led by a bucket at the break, though neither team reached 30 points in the opening 20 minutes. The Badgers responded with a dominant second half, shooting 50 percent from the field and splashing home eight of their 10 3-point tries after halftime. Minnesota was just 3-for-13 from 3 on the night and got a grand total of 19 points from everyone not named Nate Mason and Amir Coffey.
Bronson Koenig knocked down five triples and finished with a game-high 17 points. Nigel Hayes and Zak Showalter scored 12 points apiece, the trio of seniors combining for 41 in their final game at the Kohl Center.
The win sends the Badgers into the Big Ten Tournament in far better shape than they were just a few hours prior. Wisconsin entered on a nightmarish stretch that started with a home loss to Northwestern, featured three road losses and culminated in this week's home loss to Iowa on a last-second bucket from Jordan Bohannon. Once the Big Ten's best hope to compete for a national title, some folks were wondering on social media if the Badgers would win another game this season. While a slide-snapping victory against any opponent would have been huge just to get back in the win column, getting one against Minnesota — considering how well the Gophers had been playing — is gigantic heading into the postseason.
Minnesota, meanwhile, won't enter the Big Ten Tournament as the conference's hottest team. On an eight-game roll, it looked like the Gophers might've been able to claim to be the favorite in Washington. But Sunday's defeat paired with a big road win for Purdue will likely leave the Boilermakers as the favorite. Still, Pitino's remarkable turnaround effort will still give the Gophers a double bye and the No. 4 seed.