Northwestern Wildcats vs. Wisconsin Badgers Pick & Prediction MARCH 15th 2024

Northwestern carries an uncertain NCAA Tournament status despite securing the No. 4 seed for the Big Ten tournament in Minneapolis.

A strong showing this week, beginning with a Friday quarterfinal against fifth-seeded Wisconsin, figures to bolster the Wildcats’ resume.

All the better to help Boo Buie, the graduate student guard and program leading scorer, close his collegiate career with a shot at a national title.

“We have a relationship that is really special to me,” Northwestern coach Chris Collins said. “What he’s meant to the program, it does make me emotional. I want him to keep playing as long as we can because it’s going to feel really weird for me to coach a game without him out there. For five years, I’ve been penciling him in the lineup.”

A unanimous selection to the All-Big Ten first team, Buie ranked fourth in the conference in scoring (18.9 points a game) and assists (5.2 per game) for the 21-10 Wildcats.

His intangibles and leadership also have been a boon as Northwestern navigated life without senior Ty Berry, who sustained a season-ending knee injury last month.

The Wildcats struggled for balance beyond Buie during their Jan. 13 visit to then-No. 15 Wisconsin. Max Klesmit scored 24 points to pace the Badgers to a 71-63 win. Buie (22 points) and Brooks Barnhizer (13) were Northwestern’s lone players in double figures.

Wisconsin (20-12) thumped 12th-seeded Maryland 87-56 in a second-round Big Ten tournament game on Thursday afternoon. Torrid shooting boosted the Badgers, who led by as many as 42 points.

Wisconsin’s 51.7 percent effort from the floor included 16-for-25 (64 percent) accuracy from long range. John Blackwell swished four treys en route to a team-best 18 points. Steven Crowl (17 points), AJ Storr (16) and Chucky Hepburn (10) followed in double figures.

“I thought a complete team effort, both sides of the court,” Badgers coach Greg Gard said. “I thought defensively we set the tone early. Then obviously you start knocking down some shots and getting some offense from your defense. Just all the way up and down the lineup, got great contributions.”

The winner of the Friday game will meet the winner of an earlier quarterfinal between eighth-seeded Michigan State and top-seeded Purdue in the tournament semifinals on Saturday.

–Field Level Media

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