Badgers’€™ Nigel Hayes named Big Ten Freshman of the Week

Badgers freshman Nigel Hayes averaged 14.0 points and 2.5 rebounds in victories against Illinois and No. 9 Michigan State.

Andy Manis/Andy Manis/Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes has been named the Big Ten’s Freshman of the Week for the third time this season after averaging 14.0 points and 2.5 rebounds in victories against Illinois and No. 9 Michigan State, the conference announced Monday.

Hayes, a 6-foot-7, 250-pounder from Toledo, Ohio, has emerged as one of the most polished freshman frontcourt players Badgers coach Bo Ryan has ever had. During Big Ten games, he is averaging 10.5 points and 3.5 rebounds and ranks second in the conference in field goal percentage (.582). He is fifth on the team in scoring this season (7.8 points per game).

No other Wisconsin player has ever been named Freshman of the Week three times.

"As I said a lot of times, for those that care to listen, Nigel’s pretty special," Ryan said Sunday following Wisconsin’s 60-58 victory against Michigan State. "He’s really given us a big boost. He’s done things in his way where he just works. He’s pretty special."

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Climbing the ranks: After spending one week just outside the Associated Press Top-25 poll, Wisconsin moved back in at No. 21. The Badgers are ranked one spot ahead of Ohio State, which is tied with UW for fourth place in the Big Ten. Wisconsin also checked in at No. 21 in the USA Today coaches Top-25 poll, up from No. 24 one week earlier.

According to the official NCAA RPI rankings, which is used to help determine seedings in the NCAA tournament, Wisconsin is now No. 7. Michigan State is second among Big Ten teams at No. 10. The Badgers’ strength of schedule rank is second in the country, behind only Kansas.

Wisconsin (19-5, 6-5 Big Ten) plays host to Minnesota (16-8, 5-6) at 8 p.m. Thursday.

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