Craft leads Ohio State past Michigan State in other semifinal game.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Chicago • Asked what viewers at home might think after watching Wisconsin's transition game against up-tempo Indiana, Badgers forward Mike Bruesewitz predicted they would exclaim, "Dang! Those boys are athletic!"
The Badgers quickly are changing national perception.
A 68-56 Big Ten tournament semifinal victory against top-seeded Indiana will do that for a team.
"We knew we were capable of having success against this team if we stuck to our rules and played our style of basketball," center Jared Berggren said.
That style has worked well for the fourth-seeded Badgers, who won their 12th straight game against Indiana. It also will have the Badgers playing in the championship game Sunday against Ohio State and hoping that their second victory this season against Indiana will raise their NCAA Tournament seeding.
If they beat the Buckeyes, the Badgers likely would slide up from a No. 4 seed at least to a third slot. Indiana could have lost its overall No. 1 seed, but the Hoosiers appear to be a lock for one of the four regional top seeds.
The Badgers (23-10) limited the Hoosiers (27-6), who were averaging 80.8 points per game, to their lowest point total of the season and their worst margin of defeat.
Indiana's two worst shooting games have come against the Badgers, shooting 38.2 percent Saturday at the United Center and 37 percent in a January home loss.
"I just again can't tell you how proud I am of the defensive effort on a very good offensive team," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. "Every guy who went in there was pretty much sticking to the rules and trying to force Indiana to make some tough shots."
No. 10 Ohio State 61, No. 8 Michigan State 58 • Aaron Craft dominated down the stretch for Ohio State and just about left his coach speechless in the process.
Even though he had seen it before, Thad Matta struggled for a moment to find the right words to describe his point guard. Once he did, he couldn't stop himself. Seems appropriate, considering Michigan State couldn't stop him when it mattered most, either.
Craft came on strong in the second half to finish with 20 points and lead Ohio State past Michigan State in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament.
"You look at what he's accomplished thus far in his career at Ohio State and just the wins and the big plays that he's made in coaching, you don't get to coach a lot of guys like him just from A to Z and everything he stands for," Matta said. "He kind of makes us go on both ends of the floor. Obviously, he was making shots. A lot of people panicked when he wasn't scoring in the middle of the season, and I'm like, 'I don't have a problem with it. It'll come.' He loves these types of games, there's no question about it. He's big for us."
Craft keyed a seven-point spurt midway through the second half that stretched the lead to 55-47, and the Buckeyes (25-7) came away with the win after the Spartans (25-8) pulled within one.
The victory avenged a loss in last year's championship game.
Championship No. 22 Wisconsinvs. No. 10 Ohio St.
P Sunday, 1:30 p.m.
TV • Ch. 2