Badgers can add to Big Ten’s ti­tle haul

Los Angeles Times - - COLLEGE BASKETBALL - By Chris Dufresne chris.dufresne@la­times.com Twit­ter: @Dufres­neLATimes

A Wis­con­sin win Mon­day night would cap a crown­ing sea­son for the Big Ten Con­fer­ence, which hasn’t won an NCAA bas­ket­ball ti­tle since Michi­gan State in 2000.

The Big Ten won its first foot­ball cham­pi­onship since 2002 this sea­son when Ohio State cap­tured the first Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off ti­tle with a victory against Ore­gon.

“We’ve had some re­ally good teams in this league over the years,” Wis­con­sin g uard Josh Gasser said. “Kind of sur­prised there hasn’t been a na­tional cham­pion, but that doesn’t take any­thing away from the con­fer­ence as a whole, I don’t think. We’re just try­ing to rep­re­sent the con­fer­ence. It’s not about the Big Ten; it’s about us, what we can do to win a na­tional cham­pi­onship.”

The South­east­ern Con­fer­ence, in 2011-12, was the last con­fer­ence to win ti­tles in both sports when Alabama won in foot­ball and Ken­tucky won in bas­ket­ball.

In 2006-07, Florida of the SEC won foot­ball and bas­ket­ball na­tional cham­pi­onships in the same sea­son.

The Pac-12, um, has some catch­ing up to do. The league won its last NCAA bas­ket­ball ti­tle in 1997 (Ari­zona) and last na­tional foot­ball cham­pi­onship in 2004 (USC), which has been va­cated.

Sorry com­ments

Ken­tucky guard An­drew Har­ri­son has apol­o­gized for ut­ter­ing an ex­ple­tive and racial slur about Wis­con­sin star Frank Kamin­sky af­ter Satur­day night’s game.

Har­ri­son tweeted at 12:25 a.m. on Sun­day morn­ing: “First I want to apol­o­gize for my poor choice of words used in jest to­wards a player I re­spect and know.”

Kamin­sky said he re­ceived a per­sonal apol­ogy from Har­ri­son.

“Yeah, he reached out to me,” Kamin­sky said Sun­day. “We talked about it. Over it. Noth­ing needs to be made out of it.”

Deep thoughts

Kamin­sky was asked at Sun­day’s news con­fer­ence to talk about the lack of con­fi­dence he had as a young player.

Ques­tion: “Are you the man now?”

Kamin­sky: “I don’t know. I wasn’t pre­pared for a ques­tion of this mag­ni­tude. So do you want like an in­tel­lec­tual an­swer…?” For what it’s worth

Duke de­feated Wis­con­sin, 80-70, in a Dec. 3 game at Madi­son.

“They’re a dif­fer­ent team now, we’re a dif­fer­ent team,” Duke se­nior guard Quinn Cook said. “They’re a lot bet­ter. They’re play­ing as good as any­one.”

Duke was dif­fer­ent be­cause it was a young team still feel­ing its way through the open­ing weeks of the sea­son.

Wis­con­sin is dif­fer­ent be­cause Sam Dekker , who has emerged as one of the stars of the NCAA tour­na­ment, was hob­bled with an in­jured an­kle. He scored only five points in 24 min­utes.

“We won the game,” Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski said, “but I also knew that Wis­con­sin wasn’t their best.”

Duke is dif­fer­ent be­cause fresh­man for­ward Jus­tise Winslow has also emerged since that game, in which he scored only five points in 32 min­utes.

“I’ve kind of ma­tured a lot since that first game, es­pe­cially on the of­fen­sive end,” Winslow said.

Duke play­ers, though, said the game pro­vided a con­fi­dence boost.

“I think as a team, we re­al­ized how good we can be,” fresh­man cen­ter Jahlil Okafor said. “We beat a re­ally good team in their gym.”

Winslow, on what im­presses him about Wis­con­sin: “They’re win­ners. Whether it’s Kamin­sky mak­ing a big bucket or Dekker tak­ing a charge, they just find ways to win.… They don’t care who is scor­ing, they just care about win­ning.” Good on his word

Duke was shocked in last year’s NCAA tour­na­ment, los­ing as a No. 3 seed in the first round to No. 14 Mercer.

Guard Tyus Jones , who was in high school and had com­mit­ted to Duke, re­called Sun­day send­ing a text mes­sage to Krzyzewski.

“I just told him that this won’t hap­pen again next year,” Jones said.

Andy Lyons Getty Images

WIS­CON­SIN PLAY­ERS cel­e­brate win over Ken­tucky in NCAA semi­fi­nal. The Badgers can join Ohio State (foot­ball) as na­tional cham­pi­ons from Big Ten.

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