It was not going to be easy. The Michigan Wolverines had not won a game at the Kohl Center in Madison since 1999. But this year was supposed to be different. College basketball superstars, such as Trey Burke and Glenn Robinson III, headed to Madtown to take on the Badgers; the No. 3 Wolverines’ chances of finally breaking through were as good as they have ever been.
However, in an epic battle between two Big Ten juggernauts, Wisconsin once again defended its home court, sending Michigan packing with a 65-62 victory in overtime.
With the score knotted at 57-apiece, Wisconsin had a foul to give, but they inexplicably did not use it. That decision allowed Tim Hardaway Jr. to bury a three-pointer — with a hand in his face — from well behind the top of the key. The bucket gave Hardaway 18 points on the day and his team a three-point advantage with less than three seconds remaining in the game.
All Wisconsin could pray for was a long inbounds pass and a decent look at the basket from, at best, 10-to-20 feet beyond the arc. That is precisely what happened, and Ben Brust miraculously hit the long three-pointer at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.
Sconnie Nation, renowned for going bonkers for a full 40 minutes, were treated to some free basketball, and the Badgers faithful were not disappointed. Both teams clamped down defensively, but in the end, Mad-Town’s finest was rushing the court while Michigan walked off the Kohl Center floor having scored a mere two points in the extra period.
Burke, one of the few players with a legitimate shot at the 2012-13 Wooden Player of the Year Award, scored 19 points, grabbed five rebounds and dished four assists in 40 minutes for Michigan. Hardaway scored 18, but only one other Wolverines player finished with more than five. Mitch McGary came off the bench to score 12.
On the other hand, Brust scored 14 points, including the game-tying three, as one of four Badgers to reach double-digits. Forward Ryan Evans continued his solid play with 11 points, nine boards and two blocks. Jared Berggren continued to prove that white men can jump with a massive And-1 dunk late in regulation. He finished with 13 and eight. Freshman sharp-shooter Sam Dekker chipped in 12 points off the bench and the bruising Mike Bruesewitz snagged eight rebounds.
Not that any of those statistics mattered. Not with thousands of Badgers fans flooding their home court.
And not with their team sitting pretty, tied for second place in the grueling Big Ten as March Madness approaches.