Yesterday I pointed out my concerns as to why Wisconsin needs to be worried about Belmont, today I will throw out my reasons as to why Wisconsin should be able to survive and advance.
- Better Competition
- Badger fans could turn Tuscon into Kohl Center – Southwest
- Badgers tempo could limit Belmont’s depth
- Badgers have heard about upset all week
This is always mentioned when teams from lesser conferences face teams from the BCS conferences, but it is true. Even if a team like Belmont challenges itself in the non-conference, which they did, it still has been months since they have played a team as good as nearly all of Wisconsin’s opponents. This matters. I think it mattered last night when Clemson dominated UAB, Clemson had been playing much better competition for months. Belmont has not played anybody near the level of Purdue or Ohio State let alone beat them.
Kohl Center – Southwest
Along with the difference in competition is the fact Badger fans are really proud of their team and look for any reason to travel to sunny destinations. It is why the Badgers are always an enticing candidate for the warm weather bowl games. Badger fans travel, and there could be a lot of them in Tuscon since the second biggest fan base out there could be San Diego St.
Belmont has not had to travel very far this season as most games were within their home state of Tennessee or nearby. How will they handle the travel? How will they handle a Badger-leaning neutral court? These cinderella’s, or underdogs, from smaller schools have benefited recently by either playing closer to home or swaying a lot of the neutral fans. Neither of those scenarios could exist in Tuscon.
While there are a lot of things that legitimately scare me about Belmont’s style, 3P shooting, forcing turnovers, depth and tempo the Badgers do some things that negate some of this. The Badgers play at the slowest pace in the country at 57.6 possessions per game, depth will not be a huge factor in this game and in fact could hurt Belmont. Belmont has 10 or so guys that get a bunch of minutes and are all a threat but with a slower pace, and less shots, shuffling too many guys in and out could prevent anybody from getting on a roll.
The Badgers do not turn it over, at all. Unless Jordan Taylor gets hurt or into foul trouble I do not see this changing. This still leaves the worry of 3P shooting but what if the first few do not fall? Belmont will not get nearly the number of possessions they are use to meaning less opportunities to get on a roll. The Badgers style can keep a team cold due to lack of chances.
This usually helps generate the big upsets of 5, 4 and 3 seeds, motivation. Wisconsin has heard all week about how Belmont will beat them, and maybe Belmont is just better and will beat them but it will not be because Wisconsin came in un-motivated. There are some other games where a lack of motivation could trip up some teams, BYU, UConn and Texas. This will not be one of those games as I am sure Wisconsin has heard and read about Belmont being the hot upset pick.
In my mind I could really see this game going either way. If Belmont starts hot I think the Badgers could be in trouble since they are not built to make up ground quickly. Wisconsin also needs to worry about runs from Belmont throughout the game and must protect the ball. If Wisconsin comes out as the aggressor, and avoids just holding the ball for 35 seconds per possession and works the ball to score they should be okay. In the end this game will likely come down to who has a better day from three, which is similar to a lot of the tournament games and a big reason why they have become tough to predict.