The Wisconsin Badgers gave Michigan State all they could handle, but in the end, UW fell to the Spartans 63-60 in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals.
Unlike Thursday, when the Badgers beat Maryland on the boards and at the free throw line, Wisconsin lost both of those battles to Michigan State on Friday.
The Badgers were out-rebounded 41-27 and 16-10 on the offensive end. Michigan State only shot 11 free throws, but they made 10 of them. The Badgers attempted just six free throws and made only two.
The three-point loss guaranteed UW’s NCAA Tournament streak of 19 is over. For 19 straight seasons, Wisconsin called the NCAA tournament their postseason home, but not this year.
The loss for Wisconsin (15-18) is also the third straight this season against Big Ten regular season champion Michigan State.
Michigan State (29-3) advances to the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament against cross-state rival Michigan. The Wolverines (26-7) knocked off Nebraska 77-58 in the tournaments second quarterfinal game.
Ethan Happ hit 10 of 15 from the field and led the Badgers with 22 points. Brad Davison, who poured in 30 points in last Sunday’s loss to the Spartans in Madison, finished with 10 points, as did Khalil Iverson.
Davison’s contested three-point shot at the buzzer fell well short.
Miles Bridges had 20 points and Cassius Winston had 17 points, five rebounds and five assists to lead the Spartans.
The Badgers played the final three weeks like a “Sweet 16” team, but won’t get there because of their record.
“The biggest thing that will help us going into next year is to get older and healthier,” Coach Greg Gard said. “As I mentioned we had no seniors in the rotation. We had two guys that were out for most of the majority of the season other than 10 games. So we’ve got a lot of things we’ve got to get better at and grow.
“So we’ll reflect on this and I’ve got a lot of things that I won’t share that we’ll work on and get better at, and part of it will be just health and maturity will help us a lot.”