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Josh Gasser, UW men's basketball vs. Penn State

Wisconsin guard Josh Gasser (21) walks off the court with his head down as Penn State defeated Wisconsin 36-33 in a quarterfinal game at the Big Ten Conference tournament in Indianapolis on March 11, 2011.

Josh Gasser doesn't remember many of the details from the University of Wisconsin men's basketball team's most recent experience in the Big Ten Conference tournament.

Maybe it's just the sophomore guard's way of blocking out bad memories.

"We definitely don't want to relive that moment," Gasser said of the Badgers' 36-33 loss to Penn State in last year's quarterfinals. "It was definitely not fun for us."

In fact, the last three years in Indianapolis haven't been much fun for UW, which will try to avoid a fourth consecutive one-and-done finish when it plays in a Big Ten tournament quarterfinal on Friday afternoon at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The No. 14 Badgers (23-8) will meet No. 15 Indiana, which beat Penn State in the first round on Thursday.

Not only have the Badgers lost their first game of the Big Ten tournament in each of the last three years, they never even held a lead the last two years.

"We've talked about it, that nobody on this roster has won a Big Ten tournament game," Gasser said. "So it's definitely in the back of our minds that we want to go down there and have a little chip on our shoulder and hopefully come out with a few wins."

Poor shooting has been the biggest reason for UW's early checkouts in Indianapolis the last three years.

The Badgers shot 29.4 percent in the loss to Penn State last year and missed 19 of their 21 attempts from 3-point range. Remarkably, they still had a chance to win the game, but Jordan Taylor missed a 3-pointer with 12 seconds remaining and UW trailing by two points and airballed another that would have tied the game with 3 seconds left.

Two years ago, the Badgers shot 28.6 percent during a 58-54 loss to Illinois in the quarterfinals. That percentage would have been worse, but Trevon Hughes made four 3-pointers in the final 1:44 as UW nearly erased a 12-point deficit.

In 2009, UW shot 36.0 percent during a 61-57 loss to Ohio State in the quarterfinals. The Badgers led by seven points with 6 minutes left in the game but managed just three points — all on free throws — in their final 11 possessions.

"It's been some ugly games for us down there since I've been here," Taylor said. "Sometimes you have to find a way to win ugly games, and we just haven't been able to do that. No matter what the game is like this Friday, we've got to try to find a way to win."

The Badgers go into the tournament with some momentum after winning their final three games of the regular season, but they could run into a team that's even hotter.

Indiana is riding a four-game winning streak and is heavily favored to beat Penn State, which finished in a tie for last place in the Big Ten and has lost its last four games.

Plus, the Hoosiers will have the closest thing to a home-court advantage at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

"This is the time where I think a lot of people will look forward to seeing us; not only a great tournament, but seeing Indiana and seeing us in a competitive way," Indiana coach Tom Crean said. "The crowds (at Indiana home games) have been so fantastic that I have no doubt that it's going to carry over there.

"And I hope it is. I hope Bankers Life Fieldhouse is sold out every game and there's a ton of Hoosier Nation inside of there. I know our guys thrive on it and I think people enjoy watching this team. I think the crowd support is going to be tremendous."

Ending the drought in Indianapolis is important for UW, but Taylor has made it clear that the Badgers are going there with the mindset of winning more than one game.

"Three (wins) would be ideal, definitely," Taylor said. "It's definitely important to me. It's the last chance to win in the Big Ten, last experience in the Big Ten. It'd be huge, especially to go down there and try to win the whole thing."

For Taylor, it represents one final shot at a championship. The year before he arrived in Madison, UW won the Big Ten regular-season and tournament titles.

Taylor never envisioned a scenario where he'd finish his career without any sort of league title.

How disappointing would that be for the star senior?

"Very," Taylor said. "Very disappointing."


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The University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team has lost its first game of the Big Ten Conference tournament three years in a row. Each time, a struggling offense cost the Badgers a chance to advance.

2009: Ohio State 61, UW 57 – Jason Bohannon’s 3-pointer gave the Badgers a seven-point lead with 6:01 left in the game, but it turned out to be UW’s last field goal of the game. The Buckeyes ended the game on a 14-3 run. Read the game story

2010: Illinois 58, UW 54 – The Badgers missed 44 of their first 57 shots and trailed by as many as 16 points before a late rally. Trevon Hughes, who missed his first 11 shots of the game, made four 3-pointers in the final 1:44 to give UW a chance, but a late miss by Bohannon sealed the Badgers’ fate. Read the game story

2011: Penn State 36, UW 33 – The Nittany Lions jumped out to an 18-2 lead after the Badgers missed 10 of their first 11 shots from the field, including eight in a row to start the game. UW shot 9.5 percent (2-of-21) from 3-point range to finish with its fewest points since a 43-32 loss to Southwest Missouri State in the 1999 NCAA tournament. Read the game story