When Green Bay takes the floor Thursday night at the Kohl Center in Madison, they will be looking to capture the program’s first ever win in Madison.
The Phoenix are 1-23 all-time against Wisconsin, including 0-20 in Madison. Green Bay’s lone victory in the series came back in 2009, an 88-84 overtime victory at the Resch Center in Green Bay.
And while the Phoenix have never beaten the Badgers in Madison, there have been a few close calls in the past:
December 6, 1980: Wisconsin 68, Green Bay 66 (2OT)
Green Bay’s best chance steal a victory in Madison may have come during its first ever visit.
The Phoenix were in their final season as a Division II program in 1980 and had to knock off Division I Eastern Michigan in the semifinals of the Wisconsin Invitational in Madison to earn the right to face the Badgers in the championship game to set up the first ever meeting between the two programs.
In the championship game, Green Bay led by four with only 11 seconds remaining before Wisconsin’s Greg Dandridge hit a jumper with 6 seconds left to cut the lead to two. After Green Bay’s Kirk Etten missed the front end of a one-and-one, the Badgers hit a miracle 35-foot heave from John Bailey to tie the game as the buzzer sounded and sent the game to overtime.
Late in the first overtime, Green Bay’s Jim Horn made one free throw to give the Phoenix a 62-60 lead with five seconds left but he missed the second, leading to another desperation heave at the buzzer from Wisconsin’s Dandridge that was off the mark this time. However, a foul was called and the Badger sophomore would sink both free throws with no time on the clock to send the game to double overtime.
After a back-and-forth affair in double overtime, it was Wisconsin at the free throw line with a chance to ice the game. They missed, giving the Phoenix a chance to hit a half court heave of their own to extend the game but it was off the mark and the Badgers hung on for a 68-66 victory over Division II UW-Green Bay.
But don’t go saying it was a moral victory for the Phoenix.
“The only people who get satisfaction from losing close are losers,” Green Bay head coach Dave Buss said after the game.
December 5, 1992: Wisconsin 70, Green Bay 65
With Green Bay and Wisconsin tied at 65 at the UW Fieldhouse in Madison, the Badgers’ Tracy Webster hit a three pointer with one minute remaining and came up with a game-clinching steal and layup with one second left to help the Badgers escape with a 70-65 win over the Phoenix.
Sophomore forward Michael Finley poured in a then-career high 32 points for Wisconsin, including 22 in the second half, to help Stu Jackson earn his first career win as the Badgers head coach.
Trailing by 3 with under a minute left after Webster’s triple, Green Bay had two chances to cut into the Badger lead but Logan VanderVelden was called for a travel on an offensive rebound with 39 seconds left and Eric Jackson missed the front end of a one-and-one on the next offensive possession with 33.1 seconds left.
Still, the Phoenix were down just three with the ball and the clock winding down when Dean Rondorf, who led Green Bay in scoring with 24 points in the game, was stripped by Webster for the game clinching turnover and layup.
November 30, 1994: #17 Wisconsin 61, Green Bay 57
Green Bay gave the 17th ranked Badgers all they could handle in the second half of their matchup in 1994 but came up just short.
Wisconsin led by 16 points with just under seven minutes to play but the Phoenix used a 10-0 run to get back into the game, eventually cutting the lead the just three with 17 seconds left. Stifling Green Bay defense held Wisconsin without a field goal for the final 4:12 of the game to make things interesting.
The Badgers leading scorer entering the game, Michael Finley, was held to just 11 points on 2 of 12 shooting with 6 turnovers thanks to stellar defense by Green Bay’s Gary Grzesk. However, the Phoenix had no answer for Wisconsin’s superb forward Rashard Griffith as he went on to score a game-high 21 points and grab 11 rebounds, and three points was the closest Green Bay would get as Wisconsin hung on for the 61-57 victory.
Ben Berlowski led the way for Green Bay scoring 18 points including draining 4 of 7 three-point attempts.
December 23, 2015: Wisconsin 84, Green Bay 79
In an absolute roller coaster of a game, Green Bay nearly overcame a 30-point second half deficit to steal their first ever win in Madison thanks to solid high-pressure defense.
But the hole was too big to climb out of after Green Bay went scoreless for over 9 minutes in the first half, missing 16 consecutive shots and turning the ball over 7 times during the stretch, and trailed the Badgers by 21 at halftime. Wisconsin would increase the lead to 30 at 68-38 following a pair of Nigel Hayes free throws with 13:01 left in the second half.
But what followed was an improbable 33-6 run by Green Bay, forcing Wisconsin into 14 turnovers during that stretch and 26 total during the game. The Phoenix cut the lead to 3 on three different occasions in the game’s final 1:45, including a three pointer by Carrington Love with 59 seconds left to make it 79-76. But Green Bay would not get any closer and Wisconsin would escape to give Greg Gard his first win as head coach of the Badgers following the abrupt retirement of Bo Ryan.
Carrington Love led the way for Green Bay scoring 28 points. Jordan Fouse had 17.
Thursday will be the first meeting in a couple years between the two programs as the teams did not face each other last season for the first time since 2000.
The game tips off at 8:00 PM and will be televised nationally on the Big Ten Network.