Michigan tops Wisconsin in Big Ten title game 71-56

WASHINGTON — Derrick Walton, Jr. led the Michigan Wolverines to their first Big Ten tournament championship Sunday afternoon, defeating the Wisconsin Badgers 71-56.

Walton was a focal point for the Badgers defensively, but he still managed a game-high 22 points on 6-of-15 shooting. He added six rebounds and seven assists, while Bronson Koenig finished with 15 points for Wisconsin.

Koenig was an important piece for a Wisconsin team that battled back from a 10-point deficit to get within one point before halftime. Unfortunately for the Badgers, they’d come out of halftime to go nearly eight minutes without a field goal. The Badgers struggled shooting, despite grabbing 13 rebounds on the offensive glass.

Nigel Hayes added 14 points and 11 rebounds in the losing effort for Wisconsin.

Wisconsin routs Northwestern to advance to B1G title game

WASHINGTON — The Wisconsin men’s basketball team took advantage of a weary Northwestern squad to pick up a 76-48 win Saturday in a Big Ten tournament semifinal game.

The Wildcats had just come off a late night battle with Maryland, and the fatigue showed all game long. The Badgers’ defense was suffocating at times, forcing 12 turnovers, converting those miscues into 11 points. But the Northwestern defense was strong at times, too, forcing Wisconsin into 29 three-point attempts on the day. But the Badgers took advantage, knocking down 12 (41.4 percent) of them.

Nigel Hayes was the high point man, delivering 18 for the Badgers, along with 10 rebounds. Ethan Happ finished with 16 points and eight boards as a complement to Wisconsin’s outside shooting. The Badgers got 22 of their points in the paint, as compared with the Wildcats’ 16.

Wisconsin advances to the Big Ten tournament finale where they’ll meet Michigan Sunday at 2 p.m. CT. The Wolverines will be playing their fourth game in as many days — a factor that would seem to benefit the Badgers, given the result against Northwestern. It’s Wisconsin’s third appearance in the conference title game in the last five years.

Koenig expects to start for Badgers vs Ohio State

MADISON, Wis. — Senior guard Bronson Koenig played through a left calf injury in Sunday’s win over Maryland and told reporters Tuesday night that he expects to be back in the starting lineup Thursday night at Ohio State.

Koenig suffered the injury Jan. 24 against Penn State, which caused a sharp decline in his play the next five games. His Big Ten season average of 57.5 percent from three-point range and 51.5 percent from the field dipped to 22.6 and 25.5 percent, respectively. He then missed the Feb. 16 contest at Michigan — his first time sitting out due to injury. That’s why his 31 minutes of action in the win over Maryland was significant.

“I didn’t know how many minutes I had played until I looked at the stat sheet after the game,” Koenig said Tuesday following practice. “I was kind of surprised and surprised at how good I felt.”

All nine of Koenig’s points against the Terrapins came in the second half after adjusting to playing off the bench.

Koenig acknowledged that he intends to play Thursday night in Columbus, and that “rest is key at any point of the season but especially at this point. I don’t think anybody is really 100 percent.”

Badgers complete sweep of Wolverines with 6-4 victory

MADISON, Wis. Coming off a back-and-forth game on Friday night, the Wisconsin men’s hockey team found themselves in another tough battle on Saturday night at the Kohl Center.

Fortunately for the Badgers (17-10-1, 10-4-0-0 Big Ten), they found themselves on the winning end once again as they defeated Michigan (9-16-3, 2-10-2-2) by a score of 6-4.

Trent Frederic opened the scoring for the Badgers just eight seconds into the first period, the fastest goal to start a game in program history. The freshman potted his 13th tally of the season as he crashed the net and received a feed from Matt Ustaski, who was behind the goal line. Luke Kunin also earned his 13th assist of the year on the play.

“I think the puck was coming to me and guys were making nice plays and I just happened to be there. It was a good weekend and good to get two wins,” Frederic said.

Wisconsin did not lead for long, however, as Michigan tied the game just 35 seconds later on James Sanchez’s fifth goal of the season. The Wolverines then took their first lead of the weekend 4:40 into the period on a goal from Cutler Martin.

Frederic denied Michigan a lead at intermission as he scored his second goal of the period, a short-handed tally after Luke Kunin blocked a shot in the defensive zone. The 19-year-old center then had an incredible effort to spring himself on a breakaway which he calmly finished with just over two minutes left in the frame.

“Little stuff like that with a blocked shot and I get the opportunity like that or the pass like last night, he’s obviously great to play with,” Frederic said. “The first goal, he made a nice play to just get the puck on the net and Ustaski made a nice play to me and it just happened to go in. My line, I thought it was good playing with them and it was a good weekend.”

The game continued to swing both ways over the next two periods as Aidan Cavallini scored his fourth goal of the season and first at the Kohl Center just 2:01 into the second period to give the Badgers a 3-2 lead. Cameron Hughes extended his point-scoring streak to 12 games with an assist on the play.

“He’s been a workhorse for us all year, his role has become more important as we’ve gone along,” head coach Tony Granato said. “I think it’s just his consistency, how he’s played has put us in a position where we want him on the ice. We thought putting him in that spot tonight would be a chance to play him more.”

Just under 11 minutes later, Joseph Cecconi knotted the game at 3-3 with his first goal of the season and the two teams headed into the final period tied.

About seven and a half minutes into the final stanza, Jake Linhart regained the lead for the Badgers as he crashed the net on a Ryan Wagner shot. The puck deflected off of his leg and past goaltender Zach Nagelvoort to put UW up 4-3.

UM responded right away, finding the back of the net just 51 seconds later on a goal from Adam Winborg.

The Cardinal and White finally found the eventual game-winner from Peter Tischke with under nine minutes to go in regulation. The UW defenseman deflected a Will Johnson back-handed shot under Nagelvoort’s legs to give the Badgers a lead they would not surrender.

Cavallini added his second goal of the game into an empty Michigan net to ensure Wisconsin’s 6-4 win.

“Yeah I think it’s pretty cool,” Cavallini said. “People say to play every game like your last and I think now that’s actually starting to hit me hard because when you’re younger you don’t think about it. It’s definitely pretty special but I just really care about winning and having a good finish to this year.”

Goaltender Matt Jurusik finished with 34 saves on 38 shots faced on the evening.

“It was one of those games, it was weird the way the bounces were going around the net. The one that floated in, I think their guy got a piece of it, but it was a floater through,” Granato said. “Jurusik was looking through traffic and it floats in. He looked square, it looked like he was confident and he made some big saves when he had to.”

With the win and six conference games to go, UW can finish no lower than fourth place in the Big Ten standings. The three points also keeps the Badgers in second place and on pace with first-place Minnesota, who swept Penn State over the weekend, making the margin just three points between the two teams.

First place will be on the line for Wisconsin next weekend as it heads to Minneapolis to take on the Gophers in the second Border Battle of the season. The two teams split the first matchup in Madison earlier in the year.

“Next week will be a challenge. We had two great games against Minnesota there a few weeks back. We know the skill that they have, we know we’ll have to be at our best,” Granato said. “Minnesota and Wisconsin, doesn’t matter what the records are, but now you see that one-two in the (Big Ten Conference) standings, it’s only going to be that much more meaningful and exciting.”


Badgers open series against Wolverines with 5-2 win

MADISON, Wis. —  Riding behind three goals in the last 10 minutes of regulation, 20th-ranked Wisconsin (16-10-1, 9-4-0-0 Big Ten) defeated Michigan (9-15-3, 2-9-2-2) by a score of 5-2 at the Kohl Center on Friday night.

Heading into the final stanza, UW held a slim 2-1 lead, but Michigan tied the game at 2-2, eight minutes into the period on Evan Allan’s third goal of the season.

Wisconsin did not let the game remain a tie for very long, as they responded with Trent Frederic’s second goal of the game just 1:35 later to take back the lead for good. Frederic tapped in a laser-like pass from Luke Kunin, who found the freshman through bodies and sticks. Corbin McGuire was given a secondary helper on the play.

“When they tied it 2-2 was when I thought our team stepped up,” head coach Tony Granato said. “Luke Kunin made a great pass to Trent Frederic and (Aidan Cavallini’s) pass to (Jarod) Zirbel. I thought those were big moments and big for our team. They still had plenty of time to get another one but we got back after it and made a couple plays that were huge.”

The Cardinal and White sealed their victory with 2:17 to go in regulation as Aidan Cavallini fed a behind-the-back pass to Jarod Zirbel who roofed the puck to make it a two-goal game. JD Greenway earned an assist on the play.

Seamus Malone then added an insurance goal 18 seconds later to make it 5-2 Badgers.

“They became a little more aggressive trying to get the puck out of their end,” Granato said. “I don’t think we did anything different after we got the 3-2 lead, I just thought they were a little more desperate to try to make plays. We took advantage of it and made some plays on their end. We outnumbered them at the net.”

Earlier in the game, Frederic opened the scoring halfway into the first period for his 11th marker of his freshman campaign. He collected the puck off of a shot that had went wide and deposited it into the net. Jake Linhart and Peter Tischke earned assists on the goal.

The Badgers held the 1-0 lead until the opening minute of the second period, when Michigan tied the game for the first time on Cooper Marody’s fifth goal of the year.

UW regained the lead on the power play after Cameron Hughes finished off a nifty give-and-go between him and Kunin. The nice passing play led to the junior’s seventh goal of the year and extended his point-scoring streak to 11 games.

“I think any time a team scores, you want a good response. We were lucky enough to get a power play and get a chance to get right back into it,” Hughes said. “I think we executed pretty well. We’ve been working on that in practice, so that payoff was the goal and the momentum.”

The last time a Wisconsin player had a point-scoring streak of 11 games was Tyler Barnes during the 2011-12 season. That streak lasted from Oct. 8-Nov. 12, 2011.

Michigan-native Jack Berry defeated the Wolverines for the second time this season, making 25 saves on 27 shots faced.

“Our team is confident around him. He’s been the same pretty much every game he’s played. Obviously we need him and he was rock solid,” Granato said.