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Indiana Hoosiers vs. Wisconsin Badgers (+6.5, 127)
A spot in the Big Ten tournament championship game is on the line when top-seeded Indiana and fourth-seeded Wisconsin meet in Saturday’s semifinals in Chicago. The No. 3 Hoosiers dispatched Illinois in Friday’s quarterfinals while the No. 23 Badgers advanced by overcoming a double-digit deficit to knock off Michigan. Wisconsin won the regular-season meeting 64-59 at Indiana. The early season loss surely provides the Hoosiers with even more motivation to end an 11-game losing streak against the Badgers.
Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan didn’t want to discuss the Badgers’ longstanding dominance of the Hoosiers after beating the Wolverines. “I don’t even think about those kind of things,” Ryan said. “Never have. And people that know me will tell you that.” Indiana’s 59 points in the first meeting is its second-lowest output of the season. The Hoosiers average 80.8 points and are 16-1 when scoring 80 or more this season. Indiana had a 38-26 rebounding edge in the win over Illinois. “I think our guys really, really understand how important rebounding on both ends is, and specifically how important guard rebounding is,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said afterward.
TV: 1:40 p.m. ET, CBS
ABOUT INDIANA (27-5): Sophomore forward Cody Zeller had 23 points and 10 rebounds in the January loss to Wisconsin and excelled in the victory over Illinois by scoring 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting and collecting nine rebounds. Junior guard Victor Oladipo had a solid all-around game against the Illini with 12 points and 11 rebounds and senior forward Christian Watford scored 15 points as five Hoosiers reached double digits. “These guys are so unselfish and they’re so selfless with one another,” Crean said. Indiana is in the tournament semifinals for the first time 2006 as the program bottomed out badly before Crean arrived to revive it.
ABOUT WISCONSIN (22-10): The Badgers made a stunning turnaround in their 68-59 victory over Michigan by scoring three times as many points (51) in the second half than the first (17). Wisconsin’s 17.2 percentage over the first 20 minutes was a season-low for a half and the Badgers shot 60.7 percent in the second half while tallying their most points in a half this season. Sophomore point guard Traevon Jackson led the way with 16 points and frustrated Big Ten Player of the Year Trey Burke for much of the contest. Jackson is aware of the chatter that the Badgers don’t have the type of talent that schools like Indiana and Michigan do. “When we play together as a team, we can get beat anybody,” Jackson said. “Yeah, these guys are NBA guys, but we believe in ourselves as well.”
* Over is 4-1 in Badgers’ last five overall.
* Badgers are 9-2 ATS in the last 11 meetings.
* Over is 4-1 in Hoosiers’ last five neutral site games.
1. Indiana’s last victory over Wisconsin came Jan. 31, 2007 when the Badgers were ranked second in the nation.
2. Badgers junior G Ben Brust had four of Wisconsin’s eight 3-pointers against Michigan.
3. The Hoosiers racked up nine steals against Illinois, including two by freshman point guard Yogi Ferrell, whose 71 steals are three shy matching the school record held by Isiah Thomas (1980-81).
Bulter Bulldogs vs. Saint Louis Billikens (-3, 124)
Saint Louis looks to continue its dominance when the No. 16-ranked and top-seeded Billikens play fifth-seeded Butler in the Atlantic 10 semifinals Saturday in Brooklyn, N.Y. Saint Louis, which has won 13 of its last 14 games, is coming off a 72-55 victory over ninth-seeded Charlotte in Friday’s semifinals. The Billikens finished 13-3 in the conference, winning their first outright regular-season title since 1957.
Butler, which has won four straight, defeated fourth-seeded La Salle 69-58in Friday’s semifinals after beating 12th-seeded Dayton 73-67 in Thursday’s first round. The Bulldogs finished third in the conference at 11-5. Butler was swept by Saint Louis in the regular season, losing 65-61 on Feb. 22 in Indianapolis and falling 75-58 on Jan. 31 in St. Louis.
TV: 1:30 p.m. ET, CBS
ABOUT BUTLER (26-7): The Bulldogs, who are in their first season in the A-10 after leaving the Horizon League, have big wins over Gonzaga, Indiana and Marquette and likely will make their fifth NCAA Tournament appearance in six seasons under head coach Brad Stevens. Stevens guided Butler to four Horizon League regular-season championships, three league tournament titles and back-to-back NCAA national runner-up finishes during the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons. Senior guard Rotnei Clarke, who leads Butler in scoring (16.8), led five Bulldogs in double figures with 14 points against La Salle on Friday.
ABOUT SAINT LOUIS (25-6): Junior forward Dwayne Evans scored a career-high 25 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the Billikens past Charlotte. Evans finished 8-for-9 shooting and 9-for-9 from the foul line. Evans, who was selected to the A-10 First-Team All-Conference squad, leads the team in scoring (13.3) and rebounding (7.6). Senior forward Cody Ellis, the A-10 Sixth Man of the Year, has come off the bench in all 31 games and is second on the team in scoring (10.2). Senior guard Kwamain Mitchell (10.1) and junior guard Mike McCall Jr. (10) also average double-digit points.
* Over is 5-1 in Bulldogs’ last six neutral site games.
* Billikens are 6-0 ATS in their last six Saturday games.
* Billikens are 7-0 ATS in their last seven games vs. a team with a winning percentage above .600.
1. Saint Louis interim head coach Jim Crews on Tuesday was named National Coach of the Year by The Sporting News and Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year by the conference. Crews took over the program in August after it was announced that Rick Majerus would not coach this season. Majerus died during the season.
2. Evans has scored in double figures in 13 straight games.
3. Butler sophomore F Kameron Woods scored six of his 10 points and grabbed all nine of his rebounds in the second half against La Salle.