Author: Avery Steinberg
In a game that will be remembered for its post-game antics rather than what transpired on the court, the Wisconsin Badgers (21-5, 12-4)outdueled the Michigan Wolverines (14-11, 8-7) by a final score of 77-63. The Badgers capitalized on a huge-second half outburst from player of the year candidate Johnny Davis to secure the crucial victory.
A Big Ten Battle
At the start of the game, the Badgers got off to a slow start, allowing Michigan to take an early 8-4 lead before the under-16 commercial break. Coming out of the huddle, the Badgers received some quality minutes from backup big man Chris Vogt and freshman guard Chucky Hepburn to stabilize the offense.
The two teams continued to slug it out the remainder of the half inside the arc, but both teams started a combined 0-15 from deep until Michigan freshman Caleb Houston finally got one to fall with 2:04 remaining before the break. Michigan finished the half 1-10 from beyond the arc with Wisconsin checking in at 0-6.
The game reached its midpoint tied at 31 with the Wolverines entering the half led by star big man Hunter Dickinson and his 15 first-half points. Meanwhile, for Wisconsin, the duo of Hepburn and Davis carried the load offensively with a combined 15 points to close out the half.
Coming out of the break, a quick 7-2 spurt by Michigan pushed their lead to 38-33 and forced a quick timeout from Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard.
That run however was as good as it got for the Wolverines. Coming out of the timeout the Badgers immediately ripped off a 14-1 run over the span of 5:09. They finished the game by outscoring Michigan 46-30 in the second half.
The Badgers' second-half explosion can be almost exclusively attributed to Big Ten and National Player of the Year candidate Johnny Davis who exploded for 17 points in the half, including an individual 9-0 run which really put the game out of reach for Michigan heading into the under eight timeout. Davis finished the game with 25 points in addition to reeling in six rebounds and posting three blocks.
Impressively, all five Badger starters finished the game in double-digit points, as center Steven Crowl followed Davis with 11 of his own, and Hepburn, Brad Davison and Tyler Wahl all finished with 10 points.
For Michigan, All-American center Hunter Dickinson finished with 21 points and five boards, followed by Eli Brooks with 14 points and four rebounds, and DeVante' Jones with 11 points, six rebounds and seven assists.
All of this culminated in a 14 point victory for the Badgers, pushing them into a tie with the Illinois Fighting Illini for second in the Big Ten standings with a conference record of 12-4 respectively. They are only a half-game behind the Purdue Boilermakers who are 13-4.
As for Michigan, the loss drops them to 14-11 overall and 8th in the Big Ten with a conference record of 8-7. More notably, the Wolverines find themselves on the NCAA tournament bubble and will probably need to win at least three of their remaining five games to have a shot at the tournament.
Post Game Antics
The story of the day in the sports world, overshadowing this excellent weekend of College Basketball, occurred just moments after the conclusion of this game. As both teams headed to shake hands, Michigan head coach Juwan Howard appeared to lower his mask and say something to Greg Gard before attempting to walk by without shaking hands. However, Gard did not appear to appreciate Howard's antics and proceeded to grab his arm in order to start a conversation. What followed was pure mayhem.
Howard and Gard engaged in a brief, yet fierce exchange, which ended up with Howard sticking his finger right up in Gard's face. This act led to Wisconsin assistants rushing to the defense of their head coach, which was followed by Michigan assistants and players doing the same, creating a scrum near the scorer's table.
Then the true mayhem happened. Juwan Howard took it to the next level as he “punched” or “slapped,” depending on who you ask, the face of Wisconsin assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft, sending shock waves around the college basketball world. From that point forward the altercation evolved into a full-blown brawl. Michigan players Moussa Diabate and Terrance William were seen throwing punches. So was Wisconsin guard Jahcobi Neath. Furthermore, a plethora of assistants on both sides were involved, including a Wisconsin assistant who was seen tackling Michigan forward Terrance Williams into the stands.
In the aftermath, both teams were separated and led to their locker rooms, although emotions were certainly still high. Already, both Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel and Wisconsin athletic director Chris McIntosh have released statements and have been in contact with Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren.
At this point, all we can do is wait and see what punishments are handed down by the Big Ten, NCAA, and schools themselves. Almost certainly Juwan Howard, Joe Krabbenhoft, and all three players who threw punches will be suspended. For how long, and if anybody else is punished as well is yet to be seen.
Wisconsin continues their path towards a Big Ten title as they take on the rival Minnesota Golden Gophers on Wednesday, at 8:00 p.m. in Minneapolis.
Michigan faces off with the scorching Rutgers Scarlet Knights in a crucial midweek battle between two bubble teams on Wednesday, at 6:00 p.m. at home in Ann Arbor.