The Michigan men’s basketball team is on a roll, one that has continued since the start of March — and was interrupted but not deterred by what could have become a catastrophic event. Wisconsin, meanwhile, is recovering nicely from a stumble during which it lost five of its final seven regular-season games.
The eighth-seeded Wolverines (23-11) and the second-seeded Badgers (25-8) meet Sunday in the Big Ten Tournament championship game at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.
The winner will earn an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament, whose 68-team field will be announced Sunday.
Michigan is vying for its first Big Ten Tournament championship since 1998 (a title that was vacated as a result of NCAA sanctions).
The Badgers have won three Big Ten titles (2004, 2008, 2015) and will make their seventh appearance in the Big Ten championship game.
Michigan and Wisconsin split the regular-season series — Wisconsin won 68-64 on Jan. 17 in Madison, Wis., and Michigan won 64-58 on Feb. 16 in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Michigan vs. Wisconsin: game time, details
Time: 3 p.m. (ET) tip-off
Date: Sunday, March 12
Location: Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.
The line: Wisconsin is favored by 2 points.
Which TV channel is Michigan vs. Wisconsin on?
The game will be broadcast on CBS.
How can I watch Michigan vs. Wisconsin online?
CBS will live-stream the game at CBSSports.com, as well as on the CBS Sports app.
How can I listen to Michigan vs. Wisconsin on the radio?
Michigan: 950 AM (WWJ Detroit), 102.9 FM (WWWW Ann Arbor) and 1050 AM (WTKA Ann Arbor) are the primary stations for U-M Radio. Click here for other Michigan radio affiliates.
The Wisconsin call for the game will be on the Badger Sports Network. Click here for a list of affiliates.
The game can also be heard via Compass Media on Sirius/XM Channel 84 and Internet Channel 84.
Who is calling the Michigan vs. Wisconsin game?
CBS: Jim Nantz handles play-by-play with analysts Bill Raftery and Grant Hill, and reporter Tracy Wolfson.
Michigan radio: Matt Shepard will handle the play-by-play duties with analyst Terry Mills.
Wisconsin radio: Matt Lepay does play-by-play with analyst Mike Lucas.
Compass Media (national radio): Matt Smith does play-by-play with analyst Rick Mahorn.
Two keys for Michigan
Stay together when things get rocky: Michigan has already done this, correct? The Wolverines showed the value of teamwork when evacuating a plane that aborted takeoff and skidded off the runway in Ypsilanti, Mich., on Wednesday. Then, in a conference semifinal against Minnesota, when the Golden Gophers tied the game at 55-55 in the second half, Michigan coach John Beilein pulled his team together during a timeout and gave it some strong words: Stay together. “There was no yelling or screaming,” Beilein said after the win against Minnesota. “Settle down, we know what we have to do. Let’s guard defense. Let’s be together as a team.”
Play strong on the boards, under the basket: Minnesota outrebounded Michigan 38-24, but Michigan capitalized in transition and found ways to score off turnovers — the Wolverines scored 20 points off eight turnovers against the Golden Gophers. Michigan has averaged 30 rebounds in three tournament games, including 38 in a 74-70 overtime upset of top-seeded Purdue. But Michigan needs to establish an inside presence against Wisconsin, especially against Badgers center Ethan Happ, who can dominate in the paint. In two tournament games, the 6-foot-10 Happ has 30 points and 20 rebounds.
Two keys for Wisconsin
Bronson’s back: The Badgers were without guard Bronson Koenig for the first time since 2013 during their loss to Michigan in February, and in his place started an overwhelmed D’Mitrik Trice. In the six games he’s started since then, Koenig has averaged 17.3 points while looking very much like the clutch shooter Wisconsin needs him to be. Considering how quickly the Wisconsin offense falls off the rails when it can’t find a second scorer behind Happ, Koenig’s presence should be a major factor.
Stay smothering on defense: Since getting its doors blown off by Ohio State, and then Michigan State, Wisconsin’s defense has returned with a vengeance. In their last four games, the Badgers have allowed only 53.5 points per game on 36.9 percent shooting. Wisconsin faced three of the Big Ten’s four highest-scoring teams in that stretch: Iowa (first, 80.2 points), Minnesota (fourth, 75.3) and Indiana (third, 79.8). The question now is how Greg Gard uses his two defensive aces in Happ and Zak Showalter against a patient Michigan team that has plenty of scoring options and depth.
Landof10’s Jack Baer contributed to this report