Badgers face Illini in Big Ten Tourney semifinals
Chicago, IL (Sports Network) – A couple of schools trying to take one step
closer to winning the 2007 Big Ten Tournament title meet at the United Center
in Chicago today, as the sixth-seeded Illinois Fighting Illini do battle with
the third-ranked and second-seeded Wisconsin Badgers in the semifinal round.
The winner of this game will move on to the finals to face either No. 1 Ohio
State or Purdue.
As the six seed, the Illini were forced to begin tournament play in the opening
round, where they posted a 66-60 triumph over 11th-seeded Penn State. Illinois
followed that with a 58-54 overtime upset of third-seeded Indiana in the
quarterfinals on Friday. With the wins, the Illini improved to 18-7 all-time in
this event and that is the best mark of any league member. Illinois has reached
the finals of the Big Ten Tournament four times and it has prevailed in the
title game twice.
As for Wisconsin, it finished second in league play with a school-record 13
conference wins this year and was rewarded with an opening- round bye. The
Badgers made their first appearance in this tourney on Friday, posting a 70-57
win over seventh-seeded Michigan State. The outcome added to the school’s
record win total for the season that is now at 28 and in the process improved
it to 10-8 all-time in this event. Wisconsin made back-to-back appearances in
the finals of the Big Ten Tournament in 2004-05, winning its lone title against
Illinois in 2004, while losing out in the rematch to the Illini in 2005.
As for the all-time series, Illinois owns a 106-69 advantage over the Badgers,
although Wisconsin posted a 71-64 win during the regular season.
The Illini held Indiana to just 2-of-8 shooting from the floor in overtime, as
they pulled out a four-point win on Friday. For the game, Illinois limited the
Hoosiers to a dismal 31.4 percent shooting effort from the field, in addition
to winning the battle on the boards, 42-36. Warren Carter led the way with 17
points and seven rebounds, while Shaun Pruitt notched a double-double with 16
points and 12 boards. On the season, Carter, who scored 19 points in the team’s
opening-round win, leads the Illini with 13.7 ppg and he is also pulling down
6.3 rpg. Pruitt has formed a solid one-two punch with Carter, as he turns in
11.6 ppg and a team-best 7.6 rpg. The Illini, however, have thrived at the
defensive end this season, holding opponents to a mere 57.3 ppg.
The Badgers made 51.1 percent of their attempts from the field and 8-of-17 from
beyond the arc, as they posted a 13-point win over Michigan State on Friday. To
no surprise, Alando Tucker headed the charge with 21 points and six boards,
while Kammron Taylor chipped in with 11 points. Tucker, the Big Ten Player of
the Year, leads Wisconsin in scoring this season with a healthy 20.2 ppg. He is
also grabbing 5.4 rpg and shooting 47.6 percent from the floor. Taylor ranks
second to Tucker with 12.5 ppg and he is making good on 40.6 percent of his
three-point attempts. As a team, Wisconsin in netting a solid 71.3 ppg, while
yielding only 57.5 ppg.