‘That’s why you come play in the Big Ten’: Badgers celebrate conference title

Improbable, but spell-binding; that is perhaps the best way to encapsulate Wisconsin basketball’s journey through this regular season.

Preseason Big Ten analysts had the Badgers projected to finish maybe 10th in the final standings. After all, not many teams graduate almost the whole starting lineup one year and come back even better the next year.

But this Badger squad, behind Central star Johnny Davis, made the improbable a reality, with Davis and freshman Chucky Hepburn hitting back-to-back clutch shots in the final moments to beat higher-ranked Purdue Tuesday night. That win gave the Badgers at least a share of the conference crown, the 20th regular season title in program history.

“It was him or Johnny. Put the ball in your playmakers’ hands and he made a play,” head coach Greg Gard said.

“I knew as soon as he got the ball he was going to take a shot,” Johnny Davis said about Hepburn’s final banked-in three-pointer. “I didn’t want the ball in anyone else’s hands, and he did what he does best.”

“That’s why you come play in the Big Ten, especially why you play at Wisconsin,” said Brad Davison. “You want to play for Big Ten titles and play meaningful games in February and March, and that’s what we did.”