Minnesota (8-20; 2-14): vs. Wisconsin (19-10; 11-5) at Williams Arena
Wednesday, March 2 at 8 p.m.
TV: Big Ten Network
The spread: Minnesota +7.5
*Coach Richard Pitino says the decision to suspend three was his. Click.
*Previewing Minnesota and Wisconsin. Click.
*A look at the team without Dorsey, Mason and McBrayer. Click.
*Video from yesterday's news conference with Pitino. Click.
Three storylines as the Gophers attempt to scrap what little is left of the season:
Sharp shooter. When Kevin Dorsey, Nate Mason and Dupree McBrayer were held out on Sunday at Illinois -- less than two weeks after senior Carlos Morris was dismissed from the team -- the Gophers lost every scholarship guard they had on the roster. As a result, walk-on Stephon Sharp was forced into the starting lineup at point guard, a position he hadn't played since fifth grade.The result was better than most could have asked for -- Sharp played 39 minutes and finished with 19 points. That production will be necessary and then some if the Gophers want even a respectable finish, but the Badgers will likely be more aware of his three-point shot -- he hit four on Sunday in the 84-71 loss -- than Illinois was. Toning down the seven turnovers would help, too.
Inside play. Take the Gophers pick-and-roll, driving attack off the table. The only offense Minnesota has left aside from outside shots is Jordan Murphy and Co. in the paint. Unfortunately for Minnesota, there aren't any real playmakers on the team anymore, so none of this is going to be easy. But Murphy has a will and a force under the paint that can be super effective -- just take a look at his 17 first-half points against Illinois -- so the Gophers' best option is to get the ball to their athletic freshman as much they can.
Sending off King. Lost in all of the off-court drama is the fact that tonight is Senior Night. It's an unfortunate turn of events for lone senior Joey King, who is getting punished for other people's mistakes in this case. I'm sure this isn't how he envisioned being sent off. But being the sturdy, positive young man he is, he's still saying the right things. "This has definitely been a unique situation for everyone involved," he said of the roller coaster season as a whole in a news conference on Tuesday. "For me personally, there have been a lot of ups and downs ...but I just try to look big picture and think about all I've accomplished and all the teams I've played for have accomplished over the years and how much fun I've had. That's what really keeps me going and keeps me confident every day." There will be a ceremony honoring King and his family before the game tonight.
63.2 -- Points per game that Wisconsin's opponents are scoring, a scoring defense that ranks top nationally.
7 -- Consecutive games that Bronson Koenig has hit at least two three-pointers, he's hit at least at least one in 40 consecutive games, a school record.
6-0 -- Wisconsin's record in its last six single-digit game.