Indiana Hoosiers vs. Wisconsin Badgers (+6, 128)
A spot in the Big Ten tournament championship game is on the line when top-seeded Indiana and fourth-seeded Wisconsin meet in Saturday’s semifinals in Chicago. The No. 3 Hoosiers dispatched Illinois in Friday’s quarterfinals while the No. 23 Badgers advanced by overcoming a double-digit deficit to knock off Michigan. Wisconsin won the regular-season meeting 64-59 at Indiana. The early season loss surely provides the Hoosiers with even more motivation to end an 11-game losing streak against the Badgers.
Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan didn’t want to discuss the Badgers’ longstanding dominance of the Hoosiers after beating the Wolverines. “I don’t even think about those kind of things,” Ryan said. “Never have. And people that know me will tell you that.” Indiana’s 59 points in the first meeting is its second-lowest output of the season. The Hoosiers average 80.8 points and are 16-1 when scoring 80 or more this season. Indiana had a 38-26 rebounding edge in the win over Illinois. “I think our guys really, really understand how important rebounding on both ends is, and specifically how important guard rebounding is,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said afterward.
TV: 1:40 p.m. ET, CBS
ABOUT INDIANA (27-5): Sophomore forward Cody Zeller had 23 points and 10 rebounds in the January loss to Wisconsin and excelled in the victory over Illinois by scoring 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting and collecting nine rebounds. Junior guard Victor Oladipo had a solid all-around game against the Illini with 12 points and 11 rebounds and senior forward Christian Watford scored 15 points as five Hoosiers reached double digits. “These guys are so unselfish and they’re so selfless with one another,” Crean said. Indiana is in the tournament semifinals for the first time 2006 as the program bottomed out badly before Crean arrived to revive it.
ABOUT WISCONSIN (22-10): The Badgers made a stunning turnaround in their 68-59 victory over Michigan by scoring three times as many points (51) in the second half than the first (17). Wisconsin’s 17.2 percentage over the first 20 minutes was a season-low for a half and the Badgers shot 60.7 percent in the second half while tallying their most points in a half this season. Sophomore point guard Traevon Jackson led the way with 16 points and frustrated Big Ten Player of the Year Trey Burke for much of the contest. Jackson is aware of the chatter that the Badgers don’t have the type of talent that schools like Indiana and Michigan do. “When we play together as a team, we can get beat anybody,” Jackson said. “Yeah, these guys are NBA guys, but we believe in ourselves as well.”
* Over is 4-1 in Badgers’ last five overall.
* Badgers are 9-2 ATS in the last 11 meetings.
* Over is 4-1 in Hoosiers’ last five neutral site games.
1. Indiana’s last victory over Wisconsin came Jan. 31, 2007 when the Badgers were ranked second in the nation.
2. Badgers junior G Ben Brust had four of Wisconsin’s eight 3-pointers against Michigan.
3. The Hoosiers racked up nine steals against Illinois, including two by freshman point guard Yogi Ferrell, whose 71 steals are three shy matching the school record held by Isiah Thomas (1980-81).
Michigan State Spartans vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (-2, 124)
Second-seeded Ohio State and third-seeded Michigan State want to get off to better starts in Saturday’s Big Ten semifinal matchup after sluggish beginnings in their respective Friday quarterfinal games in Chicago. The No. 9 Buckeyes trailed Nebraska for a lengthy portion of the first half before eventually sailing to a 71-50 win. The No. 7 Spartans trailed Iowa by 12 midway through the second half before using a 22-2 burst en route to a 59-56 victory.
The two squads split two regular-season contests with both teams prevailing on their home courts. Spartans coach Tom Izzo is well aware his team dodged an early exit by finally getting things together late against the Hawkeyes. “Disappointed because now I can’t say we went 32 games not showing up, because we didn’t show up in the first half,” Izzo said. “But I can say 98 percent of the year, we’ve shown up every game, and I’ll look at this as an out-of-body experience and get ready for Ohio State.” Buckeyes junior point guard Aaron Craft is hoping his team comes out faster against the Spartans. “It’s going to be a tough battle,” Craft said. “We can’t afford to not be ready to go at the beginning. Otherwise, maybe we won’t be able to come back.”
TV: 4 p.m. ET, CBS
ABOUT OHIO STATE (24-7): Sophomore forward Sam Thompson scored a career-best 19 points on 8-of-9 shooting against Nebraska. Thompson has started every game and was averaging seven points before excelling against the Cornhuskers. Coach Thad Matta said the Chicago native is only scratching his potential. “Sam has been steady this season,” Matta said afterward. “I’ve always said this, when he takes his shots, he can leave out of Ohio State as one of the greatest that ever played here.” Junior forward Deshaun Thomas also had 19 points, and junior point guard Aaron Craft matched a season high with eight assists to raise his career total to 500, becoming the third player in school history to reach that milestone.
ABOUT MICHIGAN STATE (25-7): Junior center Adreian Payne was a difference-maker against Iowa with 18 points and 10 rebounds for his seventh double-double of the campaign. If not for his play over the first 30 minutes, the Spartans might have trailed by close to 20 points. “If just felt like we had our feet in the quicksand,” Payne said. Junior point guard Keith Appling scored 13 points and moved into 39th place on the school’s career scoring list with 1,069 points, surpassing legends Earvin “Magic” Johnson (1,059 points 1977-79) and Jumpin’ Johnny Green (1062, 1956-59).
* Buckeyes are 5-1 ATS in their last six games overall.
* Under is 5-1 in the last six meetings.
* Under is 5-1 in Buckeyes’ last six overall.
1. Ohio State has won five of the past eight meetings.
2. Thomas, the Big Ten’s leading scorer, has reached double digits in all 31 games.
3. Michigan State is 8-4 in games decided by five or fewer points.