No. 7 Michigan seeks revenge against No. 19 Wisconsin
Michigan bounced back from its worst game of the season with a solid road win on Tuesday. The Wolverines will now seek some revenge against the team that handed them their first loss.
Michigan posted a 77-65 victory at Rutgers on Tuesday after getting blown out at Iowa a week ago. The No. 7 Wolverines (21-2, 10-2 Big Ten), who took sole possession of first place in the conference, return home to face red-hot Wisconsin on Saturday afternoon.
"We have responded well to losses, but our loss this past Friday is really disappointing because we played our worst game. But you are not going to play great games for 31 games, you're just not going to do it," Wolverines coach John Beilein said. "You have to accept it, move on and try to get better from it. We were really good (Tuesday)."
The No. 19 Badgers (17-6, 9-3) have been really good since defeating Michigan 64-54 on Jan. 19. That started off their current six-game winning streak.
Wisconsin's defense and junior big man Ethan Happ were the difference that day. The Badgers forced 16 turnovers while Happ racked up 26 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.
Repeating that feat in Ann Arbor will be a monumental task. The Wolverines have won 20 straight at the Crisler Center.
Point guard Zavier Simpson recorded the school's sixth triple-double in Michigan's last home game, a victory over Ohio State. He engineered the attack at Rutgers with 14 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
"He's playing at an elite level right now," junior center Jon Teske told the Detroit News. "He's really carrying us right now. He's the leader of the team so we all have got to follow him, and he sets the tone.
"In practice he comes ready to play every day. In games he sets the tone early on the defensive side of the ball," Teske said. "He's willing to share the ball. He gets to the rim easy for those hooks. He rebounds well for a guard. He's playing at an elite level and it takes our team to the next level."
Freshman forward Ignas Brazdeikis, who scored a game-high 23 points Tuesday, has something to prove to the Badgers. He was held scoreless in 23 minutes at Wisconsin, the only game in the last 12 outings that he failed to reach double figures.
Wisconsin has frustrated opponents by slowing the game down and forcing tough shots. The Badgers, who could pull even with Michigan in the standings with a win, have allowed an average of 53.8 points during their winning streak.
Their latest victory came at Minnesota on Wednesday, a 56-51 defensive struggle in which Wisconsin shot a season-low 34.5 percent from the field.
"It was a gritty win," coach Greg Gard said. "This league is a grinder, as everyone knows, specifically when you're on the road. Proud of our guys and how they battled to come in here and to play with the lead the entire time. Defensively, I thought we were really good again. We made enough plays down the stretch to withstand our lead and close the door."
--Field Level Media
Updated February 7, 2019